Public safety put at risk
OLYMPIA – Sweeping law enforcement legislation pushed by majority Democrats in the Washington Legislature this year gets tough on police, but not on crime, says Sen. Jim McCune, R-Graham.
“The political agenda being pursued this year by legislative Democrats puts the people of Washington at risk,” McCune said. “It takes away local control, and treats cops like they’re the problem, not the people who break our laws.”
The cumulative effect of this year’s law enforcement legislation will be to hamstring legitimate law enforcement efforts across the state, McCune said.
“We already have a difficult time recruiting law enforcement officers in Pierce County,” McCune said. “I don’t want to discourage anyone, but the tone of this year’s legislation is enough to make anyone think twice about a law enforcement career. Police should be disciplined if they cross the line, but this legislation appears to presume such cases are routine, that existing review processes are inadequate, and if cops aren’t going to jail, there must be something wrong.
“Our police and sheriffs are dedicated and responsible professionals who put their lives on the line every day. We count on them to make split-second life-and-death decisions to keep all of us safe. They deserve our respect, not a presumption of misconduct. We shouldn’t weaken public safety efforts across the state in order to satisfy Seattle sensibilities. I hope we will be able to revisit this issue next year. This war on cops needs to end.”
Law enforcement legislation advancing in this year’s session includes:
House Bill 1310 – Enacts new restrictions on the use of force, takes away local control, increases personal liability of officers to civil suits. Passed House and Senate; referred to conference committee for consideration of amendments.
Senate Bill 5263 – Increases the likelihood of successful lawsuits against police officers, even from felons. Passed by House and Senate, to be delivered to governor.
SB 5051 – Turns the state Criminal Justice Training Commission into a state police regulatory agency, with power to punish police officers. Passed House and Senate; returns to Senate for consideration of amendments.
HB 1054 – Limits the use of police public safety tactics, restricts equipment purchases. Passed House and Senate; referred to conference committee for consideration of amendments.
HB 1267 – Sets up an independent investigations office under the governor’s control, raising prospects of Olympia micromanagement and interference with local investigations into police conduct. House concurred in Senate amendments, to be delivered to governor.
HB 1089 – Requires the State Auditor’s Office to audit investigations of the use of force, an area in which it has no expertise. Passed House and Senate, to be delivered to governor.