New bill seeks to clarify use of force | 2022 Legislative Session

Leader News Staff
news@ptleader.com
Posted 1/19/22

 

 

Police accountability laws passed in 2021 could be improved in several areas by legislation introduced by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege.

“Every year the Legislature passes laws …

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New bill seeks to clarify use of force | 2022 Legislative Session

Posted

 

 

Police accountability laws passed in 2021 could be improved in several areas by legislation introduced by Sen. Kevin Van De Wege.

“Every year the Legislature passes laws that wind up getting adjusted and updated with clean-up legislation in subsequent years, and it’s no different with the police accountability bills we passed in 2021,” said Van De Wege, a 24th District lawmaker and Sequim Democrat. “Those went too far and are hurting both the public and officers.”

Senate Bill 5577 would restore the prior threshold for vehicle pursuits, provide a definition for “physical force” based on an objective standard, and clarifies the circumstances where the use of physical force by police is allowed.

“In many cases, last year’s reforms proved much harder to implement on the ground than we anticipated,” said Sen. Mark Mullet (D-Issaquah, 5th District), the bill’s leading cosponsor. “Whatever changes are made, at the end of the day we need to make sure law enforcement has the tools to do the job.”

Following the passage of the 2021 police accountability laws, police often have felt uncomfortable conducting basic parts of their job, according to Washington State Senate Democrats. Crimes have gone unanswered in many instances, and law enforcement officials have said some of the reforms prevent law officers from fully performing their duties. The new bill would restore the standard for engaging in vehicle pursuits from “probable cause” to “reasonable suspicion,” allowing officers more leeway in initiating a pursuit.

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