NCW Sheriffs issue statement regarding multiple reform bills

Community meetings to be held

Join Sheriff Brian Burnett and the Chelan County Sheriff’s office for a review of the latest Legislative changes in our coverage area. They will cover: What are the new laws? What do they mean? How will these changes affect you?
There will be a Question and Answer time.
Entiat - August 4 - 6 p.m.
Chelan County Fire District #8 - 2200 Entiat Way
Chelan - August 11 - 6 p.m.
Chelan County Fire District #7 - 232 E. Wapato Avenue

NCW - During the 2020-21 Washington Legislative session, the legislature passed multiple police reform bills following several tragic incidents involving interactions between law enforcement and the public in cities around the nation. In May, Governor lnslee signed these reform bills into law. The majority of these new laws took effect on July 25, and will profoundly impact policing across Washington State. These laws create substantial limitations that are more restrictive than federal law with regard to police use of force. This will drive changes to police response to and handling of calls for service and investigations. Additionally, many of these new laws are ambiguous and require detailed legal interpretation. Washington law enforcement agencies across the state have asked for clarification from the Legislature, and the Attorney General's Office. To date, there has been no clarifying response received. Absent responses to these official requests, your local law enforcement leaders believe it is important to inform our communities about how these laws will influence the way we deliver public safety services moving forward.
These new laws touch on many historically-effective methods of policing in our state. These laws impact search and seizure, use of force, vehicle pursuits, drug enforcement, mental health detentions, criminal investigations, tactics, and available tools for de-escalation. Some of these changes significantly limit law enforcement response to calls without criminal activity where we have historically had a role. We encourage you to learn about these new laws and contact us with your questions. The main reformative legislation includes House Bills 1054, 1140, 1223, and 1310, along with Senate Bills 5051, 5066, and 5476.
Sheriff Brian Burnett, Sheriff Kevin Morris, Chief Steve Crown, and Chief Rick Johnson have collectively discussed how the legislation will affect law enforcement responses in their jurisdictions. Law enforcement will assess each call for service to determine the appropriate legal response and other potential resources that may be utilized to provide services. In general, if no crime has been committed and no imminent threat of harm to others exists, Officers and Deputies may not respond or may leave the scene. Some examples of calls for service that may be affected include:
• Welfare Checks - requests to check on a person in public, a private place, or who has not been heard from for an unusual period
• Mental Health - calls for service of any type where there is information or potential that the involved subject suffers from a mental health condition
• Civil Calls - non-criminal calls for service
Investigations may take longer and potential suspects may be allowed to leave the scene of an incident.
Prior to the passage of these laws, a reasonable amount of force could have been used to detain possible suspects to allow time for the initial investigation. In incidents where use of force may be needed to detain the subject, probable cause now must be established before force can be used. Furthermore, this may make the identification of suspects difficult as they could not be detained and identified at the scene of an incident if the suspect is uncooperative.
Local law enforcement agencies remain committed to the safety of our communities. We will make every effort to maintain public safety and maintain our high standards of service under these new laws.
The statement was signed by Sheriff Brian Burnett, Sheriff Kevin Morris, Chief Steve Crown, and Chief Rick Johnson.

 

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