Police hesitant toward certain bills in
Legislature that apply new controls
MONROE — House Bill 1203 would require cities to create a citizen oversight board that can look into and reshape how a local Police Department operates.
House Bill 1054 would
limit which tactics law enforcement can use.
Monroe Police Chief Jeff Jolley relayed concerns about both in a conversation last week at the City Council.
Jolley’s not against all the bills on police reform currently in the Legislature, he said, but HB 1203 in particular seems to concern him. It would require the city to create a board to detemine police actions, to hire the police chief, and the board would be given subpoena power and the ability to compel testimony on police matters. This board would get at least 5 percent of the police department budget, by how the bill is currently written. (HB 1203 is only for muncipal police departments. It would not affect cities that contract for police service with the Sheriff’s Office.)
Every police department with more than 10 officers would need to have an oversight board, by how HB 1203 is written.
The House Democrats describe HB 1203 in a newsletter that the oversight boards are a way to build commnity trust.
The City Council makes these certain hiring decisions right now. “We’re very concerned” this takes away elected officials’ role to hold the Police Department accountable, Jolley said.
House Bill 1054, on tactics, would eliminate unleashing a K-9 dog to apprehend criminals, restricts using vehicular pursuits and also prohibits police departments from having military-sourced gear and vehicles, and requires police departments to return them or destroy them by the end of 2022. For Monroe Police, if passed, it means the department’s Rescue-3 unit vehicle would be taken away.
Many limits are items the Monroe Police Department doesn’t use, such as chokehold or neck restraints, or seeking court authorization to do a “no-knock/no-announce” entry, or using tear gas for crowd control.
Many of the pieces of HB 1054 reflect some of the police reform items raised by the #8cantwait movement.
House Bill 1202, meanwhile, is titled as giving “meaningful civil remedies for persons injured as a result of police misconduct” and allows people to work with the state Attorney General’s Office to set lawsuits against a peace officer found to be engaged in police misconduct. The concern from city officials’ standpoints is a municipality could see this as a potential new liability if its police force includes a bad cop.
HB 1203, which sets police oversight boards, was discussed Thursday, Feb. 4 in the House Committee on Public Safety.
Local sponsors for HB 1203 include April Berg, D-Mill Creek, and Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo.
Local sponsors for HB 1202 include Ortiz-Self and Shelley Kloba, D-Kirkland, whose District 1 extends to the Clearview area.
Local sponsors for HB 1054 include Berg, Ortiz-Self and Kloba.
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