In July of 2021 Washington Gov. Jay Inslee signed a dozen of new bills into law. The hope was to improve policing in the state, reduce the use of deadly force and prevent deadly encounters, and if they did happen, the investigations were independent and thorough.
The bills focused primarily on how an officer can interact and come in contact with a person of interest. Everything from reasonable suspicion to probable cause was remedied and changed to make do for fewer interactions from police, which subsequently led to an increase of crime, longer response times, and low morale in most if not all offices around the state. In fact, local stations and the FBI crime stats show an increase of 46%
Let’s go over some of the bills and what they entail for police and how they can do the work, and keep their communities safe.
- Bill HB 1054 – 2021-22 bans officers from using chokeholds and neck restrains. It also restricts the use of tear gas and agencies can no longer purchase military equipment. The bill also prohibits vehicle pursuits, except in extreme cases, and bans the use of no-knock search warrants.
- Another Bill establishes a new agency called the Office of Independent Investigations within the governor’s office. This agency will investigate earlier incidents if more evidence is found. The office will have a team consisting of a director, and investigators who have experience in law enforcement litigation.
- The “reasonable care standard” is another bill that forces officers to first employ de-escalation tactics, and use the least amount of physical force possible. Deadly force was also limited which the Attorney General office would provide guidelines and rules on.
- Changes to the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission or CJTC were also implemented. This agency provides training and certifies peace officers in the state of Washington. Under the new bill the mission of the CJTC would expand and focus on integrity effectiveness and professionalism. The goal was the promote public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, according to a Gallup poll, confidence in police officers have fallen to an all time low.
- The bill also provides CJTC the authority to suspend an officer’s certification, based on their investigation, and make it easier to fire or decertify an officer for misconduct.
- This requires officers to intervene if they believe a fellow officer is using excessive force and render first aid to the victim if needed. The officers are also required to report any misconduct or wrongdoing they witness to their supervisor.
An incident that happened near Wenatchee, WA. Gives us a glimpse into this bill. An individual stole a school bus and began driving across the state. Due to the new bills passed this prevented officers from stopping the vehicle. The individual ended up stealing a front-end loader and crashing it into a home. “Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett claims Washington’s new police reform laws prevented deputies from chasing down Loudon while he was driving from police.”
Due to these new bills that were signed into law without the vote of the people, the state of Washington has gone from one of the highest-ranked places to live, down to one of the lowest. The rules and regulations that Washington state has been imposing have only hurt the working-class families that are trying to get by. That’s why 2020 showed one of the highest records in history for one-way Uhaul purchases and rentals. According to Uhaul records. Washington dropped 35 spots for places people are moving to.
The increase in crime comes with a cost. Not only do you create an unsafe environment for communities and the public. You also create a demoralizing issue for police officers and their ability to perform the actions they are required to do. When an oath to protect and serve is taken, that should be the primary factor in their ability to do their job. Unfortunately, the bills above take that away from the officers, shackle them and prevent them from helping their communities.
July of 2021 was a tough time for all Washingtonians, they got a glimpse of what was to come and they had no ability to stop it. Fast forward a few months, and the problems and issues of these bills are well known throughout the communities. Rise of homelessness, the rise of criminal activity, drug use, violent crime, and more. It’s clear from the statistics coming in, and more will come, that the laws passed only increased the crime rate, and only demoralized police departments across the state.