Saturday, the state House voted 54-43 to pass a bill from Rep. Jesse Johnson (D-Federal Way) to ban dangerous and unacceptable police tactics that lead to loss of life, in an effort to push all law enforcement to make preserving and protecting human life a fundamental value.
HB 1054 went through a rigorous process to lift up all voices, from community leaders and families of victims of police violence to law enforcement officers and K-9 advocates. The result is a stronger bill that aims to minimize aggressive tactics used during low-level infractions, and change police behavior and culture. This is a priority bill for the Black Members Caucus and Members of Color Caucus.
“Protecting and preserving human life must be law enforcement’s highest value, and the equipment and tactics they use should reflect that,” Johnson said. “While Washington state still has work to do to demand equity in our law enforcement, today’s vote is a step forward towards justice, accountability and racial equity. Black and Brown communities deserve to walk down the street or sleep in their bed without fear of violence from police.”
HB 1054 sets a standard policy for police tactics that currently vary widely between different jurisdictions. The bill would ban no-knock warrants, chokeholds, neck restraints and certain military equipment. It also establishes restrictions on tear gas, vehicular pursuits and shooting at moving vehicles.
The bill doesn’t restrict police dogs, but will require the Criminal Justice Training Commission to convene a task force of trainers and advocates to develop training to reduce rates of bites and violence and improve training for K-9 handlers, while addressing racial disparities in K-9 use.
The bill was also supported by the State Fraternal Order of Police.
Mosbrucker says balance needed in law enforcement tactics bill to keep communities, police safe
The state House of Representatives passed a controversial measure Saturday evening that enacts new restrictions on law enforcement activities and the equipment they use. Washington House Republicans’ John Sattgast reports.
SATTGAST: House Bill 1054 would prohibit police officers from using chokeholds and neck restraints; and acquiring or using tear gas and certain types of military equipment. It also requires policies to ensure officers are reasonably identifiable. And it enforces the “knock and announce” rule.
Representative Gina Mosbrucker is the ranking Republican on the House Public Safety Committee. She and other Republicans voted against the bill. . .but acknowledged the need to bridge the fragile relationship between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve.
MOSBRUCKER: “I do think that we do need to have a balance to reach the same goals. If we have police violence, those officers should be accountable for every single thing that they do. Just like you and I are. This particular job, we have to do everything we can to keep them safe. We have to make sure we give them every single tool that we can.”
SATTGAST: One provision that would have prohibited the use of police dogs to apprehend suspects was removed from the measure. The bill passed the House 54-43. It now goes to the Senate for further consideration.
John Sattgast, the state Capitol.