Washington Governor Jay Inslee calling it a “moral mandate” signed a dozen bills into law in April. The laws were signed with the hope that there will be an improvement in policing in the state and will reduce the use of deadly force. In the event of deadly encounters, the investigation conducted will be thorough and independent.
“These bills are all going to work in coordination with one another to create a system of accountability and integrity stronger than anywhere else in the nation,” Inslee said as he signed the bill.
The police reforms was signed into law as an accountability measure following calls for reform at the aftermath of the killings of Black Americans like George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. The death of Manuel Ellis in Washington at the hands of Tacoma Police in March, 2020 also spurred reform efforts.
Inslee also signed other bills with one of such bills establishing a statewide use of force database, ensure that police agencies notify prosecutors about officers with credibility issues and make it easier for families to sue the police over deadly force encounters.
Some other bills included:
- A bill that bans the use of chokeholds by officers among others.
- A measure that establishes a new Office of Independent Investigations within the Governor’s office to investigate police deadly force incidents that occur after July 1, 2022.
- A “reasonable care” standard that requires officers to employ de-escalation tactics, use the least amount of physical force necessary, and limit the use of deadly force to situations where there’s an imminent threat of serious injury or death.
- Sweeping changes to state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) which trains and certifies peace officers in Washington.
- A requirement that officers intervene if they witness a fellow officer using excessive force and render first aid to the victim if needed.
A lot of states like Washington need to adopt police reforms as a measure to the increasing cases of police brutality. These bills will have so far seen a drop in the high-handedness of the police.