OLYMPIA – The Legislature has approved two priority bills from Rep. Jesse Johnson (D-Federal Way) that are the result of significant discussion and negotiation between impacted families of victims of police violence, police reform advocates and law enforcement. Both bills are part of the House Democratic Caucus Policing Policy Leadership Team priorities and were priorities for the Legislature’s Black Members Caucus.
House Bill 1054 bans or limits dangerous police tactics that lead to a loss of life in an effort to push all law enforcement to make preserving and protecting human life a fundamental value. The tactics banned include no-knock warrants, chokeholds, neck restraints, and certain military equipment. It establishes restrictions on vehicular pursuits and shooting at moving vehicles, and modifies when tear gas can be used and how it is authorized.
House Bill 1310 changes the existing use of force statute, which currently allows police to complete an arrest by any means necessary. That has been too broad an authorization that allows an unlimited amount of force. HB 1310 sets the clear expectation that de-escalation should be an officer’s first instincts and that deadly force should be a last resort. Officers will be required to consider circumstances like a disability, someone experiencing a mental health crisis, pregnancy, or the presence of children when determining when to use force. Deadly force would be the last resort if de-escalation efforts failed.
“Throughout the past year, I worked with community leaders, families of victims of police violence, law enforcement officers, police reform advocates, and my fellow lawmakers in an attempt to lift up all voices and hear all sides. The outcome is these two bills which significantly change how law enforcement should interact with the communities they are hired to protect and serve. We must demand that protecting and preserving human life is law enforcement’s highest value. Black and Brown communities deserve it, Washington deserves it, and the Legislature is now demanding it. This is how we move forward, how we build trust, and how we end the cycle of violence,” said Johnson.
Both bills will be sent to the governor for approval.