On July 25th a large amount of new legislation regarding policing will take effect in Washington State. Some aspects of this legislation you may be aware of due to soundbites in the media.
If one were to only take a cursory glance at the media releases it would appear fairly straight forward. However, to the detriment of our citizens, much of the legislation - in fact the majority of it - is poorly written, ambiguous, and in some cases is in conflict with existing law. The result is that many agencies, such as Pierce County, are awaiting legal advice and assistance in interpreting the changes. While the Washington State Attorney General’s Office will be providing “sample policies” for law enforcement agencies, they are not expected until 2022; well after the legislation is in place.
Law enforcement has always existed within a continuous state of development. To say that police, and by default law enforcement labor organizations, are resistant to any structural change is a common myth used by those who are unwilling to engage in meaningful conversation regarding police tactics and operations with subject matter experts in law enforcement. Unfortunately, because of this rhetoric, we are now left with what some of our own local politicians realize are loosely constructed Bills that have “unintended consequences.” These consequences are likely to affect you and your loved ones through a myriad of ways to include longer response times, the inability to assist with individuals in non-criminal mental health crisis and enforcement of laws.
Our members are predominantly citizens of Pierce County. A majority of us were born and raised here; many others served in the military and settled here after being stationed at JBLM. We are active in our community, in our off duty lives, and are deeply proud of our profession. We are deeply concerned not only regarding the lack of framework and clarity that surrounds this legislation in regards to enforcement, but also for the safety of our own families and loved ones. We believe that many facets of this legislation will only serve to embolden criminals and will not make any true impact on social justice.
We respectfully ask that you, the citizens of Pierce County, read the actual legislation in its entirety. Please do not simply accept our opinion or the media “soundbites” but evaluate yourselves what these Bills will mean for you personally and the community as a whole. If, after reading the legislation, you find yourself with as many questions as we do, we would encourage you to reach out to your District Legislators and seek clarification and answers from them. For ease, we are including the links to both the legislation and District Legislators below.
- HB1267 - Concerning investigation of potential criminal conduct arising from police use of force, including custodial injuries, and other officer-involved incidents. Effective date July 25, 2021
- SB5051 - Concerning state oversight and accountability of peace officers and corrections officers. Effective date July 25, 2021
- HB 1054 - Establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by peace officers. Effective date July 25, 2021
- HB 1310 - Concerning permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers. Effective date July 25, 2021
- SB5066 - Concerning a peace officer's duty to intervene. Effective date July 25, 2021
- SB5259 - Concerning law enforcement data collection. Effective date July 25, 2021
- SB5263 - Concerning defenses in personal injury and wrongful death actions where the person injured or killed was committing a felony. Effective date July 25, 2021
- SB5353 – Creating a partnership model that facilitates community engagement with law enforcement Effective date July 25, 2021
- HB 1088 - Concerning potential impeachment disclosures. Effective date July 25, 2021
- HB1140 - Concerning juvenile access to attorneys when contacted by law enforcement. Effective date January 1, 2022
- HB1223 - Enacting the uniform electronic recordation of custodial interrogations act. Effective date January 1, 2022
- HB 1089 - Concerning compliance audits of requirements relating to peace officers and law enforcement agencies.