Police Reform Bills in 2021 Washington State Legislature We Like & Those We Meh

Washington State’s 2021 legislative session is to begin next Monday, January 11th, which will hold public testimonies remotely via Zoom. Remote meeting has its own problems, but hopefully this will make it easier for more people who live outside of Olympia and surrounding areas to voice their opinions.

One of the themes of this year’s legislative session will be police reform and accountability. There are many pre-filed bills already that address this theme, and there will be more. Here is the list of stuff we like (mostly from our Black and POC representatives and senators!) as well as those not so much.

Stuff we like:

HB 1054 Establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by peace officers

Sponsored by Representatives Jesse Johnson and Debra Entenman, HB 1054 prohibits certain police tactics historically used in racially disproportionate ways, such as chokeholds, neck restraint, and the use of police dogs to arrest people, along with the use of tear gas and other military equipment such as acoustic weapons and armed drones. It also prohibits police officers from concealing their badge number. A public hearing will be held on Tuesday, January 12th at 8amclick here to learn how to testify remotely or submit written testimony.

HB 1082 / SB 5051 Concerning state oversight and accountability of peace officers and corrections officers

Companion bills HB 1082 sponsored by Representatives Roger Goodman and Jesse Johnson and SB 5051 sponsored by Senators Jamie Pedersen and Manka Dhingra strengthen the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission, giving it greater authority to decertify and deny employment for police officers who commit misconduct, including failure to intervene and report another officer’s misconducts. Public hearing for HB 1082 is scheduled for Friday, January 15th at 10am; for SB 5051, it is Monday, January 18th at 10amclick here to learn how to testify remotely or submit written testimony.

HB 1092 Concerning law enforcement data collection

Representatives John Lovick and Roger Goodman proposed HB 1092, which requires collection and reporting of police data, including incidents that result in police conduct causing death or injury, as well as uses of firearms, chokehold or neck restraint, tear gas and other “less lethal” weapons, or unleashed police dogs. A public hearing will be held on Thursday, January 14th at 1:30pmclick here to learn how to testify remotely or submit written testimony.

SB 5055 Concerning law enforcement personnel collective bargaining

Senators Joe Nguyen and Rebecca Saldaña sponsored SB 5055 which will prohibit municipalities from entering into collective bargaining agreement with police unions that would prevent or undermine these municipalities from establishing or implementing civilian review board to hold misbehaving officers accountable. Public hearings for both SB 5055 and SB 5134 will be held on Thursday, January 14th at 8amclick here to learn how to testify remotely or submit written testimony.

SB 5134 Enhancing public trust and confidence in law enforcement and strengthening law enforcement accountability for general authority Washington peace officers, excluding department of fish and wildlife officers.

Similar to SB 5055 above, SB 5134 sponsored by Senators Jesse Salomon and Jeannie Darneille prohibits collective bargaining agreements with law enforcement officers unions that hinders municipalities’ ability to hold officers accountable, such as mandatory “waiting period” before officers are interviewed about use of force, and many other clauses common in police contracts. Public hearings for both SB 5055 and SB 5134 will be held on Thursday, January 14th at 8amclick here to learn how to testify remotely or submit written testimony.

SB 5067 / HB 1088 Concerning potential impeachment disclosures

Cryptically titled, SB 5067 (sponsored by Senetor Manka Dhingra) and HB 1088 (sponsored by Representatives John Lovick and Roger Goodman) deal with police officers who are unreliable witnesses due to misconduct. They would require law enforcement agencies to disclose any information they have about officers’ misconduct that may affect their credibility as prosecution-side witnesses to prosecutor’s office in jurisdictions where they may be called to testify. Prosecutors are (theoretically) then required to provide any such information to the defense, under Brady v. Maryland U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Stuff we meh:

SB 5089 Concerning peace officer hiring and certification

Sponsored by Senators Patty Kuderer and Jamie Pedersen, SB 5089 makes several changes to the basic requirement for someone being certified and hired as police officers. In particular, it rewards applicants who are proficient in a language other than English, has experiences in the peace corps, AmeriCorps, domestic violence counseling, or other social service profession, or those who have completed crisis intervention program with extra points in the qualification score, similar in fashion to veterans receiving preferences when they apply for public employment.

HB 1089 / SB 5069 Concerning compliance audits of requirements relating to peace officers and law enforcement agencies

Companion bills HB 1089 (sponsored by Representatives Bill Ramos and Roger Goodman) and SB 5069 (sponsored by Senator Manka Dhingra) authorize state auditor to review if any investigation involving the use of deadly force was conducted in accordance with rules and procedures by the police, prosecutors, and others that participated in the investigation. A public hearing is scheduled on January 14th at 1:30pm–click here to learn how to testify remotely or submit written testimony.

SB 5066 Concerning a peace officer’s duty to intervene

Similar to SB 5051 above, SB 5066 sponsored by Senators Manka Dhingra and Mona Das addresses police officers’ duty to intervene and report when they witness wrongdoing committed by their colleagues, but unlike SB 5051 this one merely requires adaptation of internal written policies on the duty to intervene within police departments as well as the development of basic training on it.

Outright non-solutions:

HB 1001 Establishing a law enforcement professional development outreach grant program

Representatives Jacquelin Maycumber (the only Republican mentioned on this page) and John Lovick sponsored HB 1001 laments how law enforcement agencies struggle to recruit and retain police officers due to “community distrust of law enforcement.” This bill proposes to solve the supposed problem of well-deserved community distrust by giving more money to law enforcement agencies to establish “outreach” programs to underrepresented communities to encourage them to become police officers. We try to be objective and not so opinionated on this page, but yuk.

We will keep this page updated as these bills advance (or not) or more bills are introduced.

Let us know what you are thinking!

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