Washington State House Democrats


Governor Inslee signs measure to increase transparency in deadly force investigations

OLYMPIA–Yesterday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1179 into law.  The measure authorizes the release of nonconviction data to the Office of the State Auditor for the express purpose of conducting a process compliance audit procedure and review of any independent deadly force investigation required by law.

“To have true transparency in investigations when law enforcement uses deadly force, we need to audit those investigations for consistency and clarity. To this end, we’re giving our state auditor the ability to see all the information and review nonconviction data, which will help us improve the outcome of the process,” said Rep. Bill Ramos, D-Issaquah, prime sponsor of HB 1179. “I am happy the governor enacted my bill into law because it’s time to not only restore, but also strengthen trust between law enforcement officers and the communities they serve. This legislation is a step in that direction.”

In 2021, the Legislature authorized the Office of the State Auditor, in cooperation with the Criminal Justice Training Commission, to conduct compliance audits of independent deadly force investigations and review the records and reports produced by independent investigative teams. These records are often over-redacted, which obstructs the goal of transparency in the law. This bill allows the State Auditor to access all the data in the records and reports. HB 1179 includes safeguards to ensure that the data remains confidential and is not released in a public records request.

House Bill 1179 will go into effect 90 days after the end of this year’s Legislative Session, which is on April 23.