OLYMPIA – House Bill 2908, which will create a task force to review current laws, practices and policies regarding the use of deadly force passed out of the House yesterday on a 98-0 vote. The bill, sponsored by Rep. Cindy Ryu (D-Shoreline) will help law enforcement and communities move towards creating better policing standards.
Washington’s laws regarding police use of deadly force are some of the most protective of law enforcement in the country. It is virtually impossible to hold a police officer accountable for unjustified use of deadly force. The laws were created to ensure that law enforcement could be effective. Officers place themselves at risk every day and must make decisions quickly while under extreme stress.
“When someone is shot or killed, and the law doesn’t offer pathways to clear justice for the shooting victim or the officer involved, it does damage to the community, to the reputation of law enforcement and to the notion of justice,” said Rep. Ryu. “Our current system is broken. Without changes we will continue to see more shootings and more communities torn apart.”
“It’s time we bring people together to build more trust between law enforcement and the community,” said Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) who chairs the House Committee on Public Safety. “This is a national issue and fear, anger, and mistrust are preventing us from coming up with solutions.”
House Bill 2908 will create a task force with a broad coalition of stakeholders including legislators, law enforcement, representatives from the criminal justice system, and members of advocacy organizations like the ACLU, NAACP, NWIRP and Disability Rights Washington.
The task force will review current laws, practices and training programs regarding the use of deadly force; look at alternatives to deadly force that are used by law enforcement; and submit recommendations on what changes should be made to provide better protection for community members and law enforcement.
The broad coalition will bring perspectives from all sides and can help prevent police shootings, continue to protect our police when justifiable force is used, and provide better avenues for justice for the community or police officers when there is a shooting involving law enforcement.