The Washington House voted Saturday for a package of police reforms aimed, in part, at reducing the number of violent police-public encounters.
House members took their turn telling stories about their service or someone close to them as law enforcement officers.
Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber [R-Republic] was herself an officer at one time. She says her teenage daughter recently told her she was considering a career as an officer. Maycumber says she told her daughter no.
“Because I don’t know if she will have the ability to serve and protect with peace and make it home safe every night," she said.
It’s also a time, because of high profile cases that have led to the deaths of people of color and because it’s a dangerous time to be an officer, that many policing agencies are having a difficult time recruiting new officers.
But Rep. Jesse Johnson [D-Federal Way], the prime sponsor of the police reform bill, says it’s a good time to take another look at policing and mandate changes.
“Systemic racism exists along with the need for change across all of our institutions and that includes law enforcement, Mr. Speaker. In many cases bad policing is just a result of bad policy. We have witnessed the evidence of unnecessary police violence and tactics that has produced negative outcomes, predominantly for people of color," he said.
Johnson’s bill has several provisions, including bans on chokeholds and neck restraints. It bans officers from sending dogs to apprehend suspects. It prohibits the use of tear gas and some types of military equipment. It restricts vehicle chases and shooting at moving vehicles.
Rep. Brad Klippert [R-Kennewick] says the bill will have unintended consequences.
“Working together on this bill, we came so close to something that would work, that would give tools to law enforcement they need to do their job with less lethal tools so they don’t have to resort to lethal tools," he said.
The House approved the bill 54-to-43. It now moves to the Senate.