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WA Police Reform Bill Seeks To Ban Unleashed Police K9s, Ban Most Pursuits, And More

Olympia, WA – The Washington State legislature is considering a police reform bill that would prohibit or severely limit law enforcement officers from utilizing a wide range of tools and tactics.

House Bill 1054, which was pre-filed by Representative Jesse Johnson (D – 30th District) on Christmas Eve, would completely prohibit the use of all chokeholds and neck restraints, even in deadly force situations.

Police would no longer be allowed to use “unleashed” K9s “for the purpose of arresting or apprehending” suspects and “tear gas” would not be permitted “for any purpose” under the proposed legislation.

The bill also takes aim at “military equipment,” banning everything from armored vehicles and helicopters, to “machine guns,” suppressors, long-range acoustic devices and “mine resistant ambush protected vehicles,” among other tools and weapons.

“Any law enforcement agency in possession of military equipment…shall return the equipment to the federal agency from which it was required, if applicable, or destroy the equipment by December 31, 2022,” the legislation reads.

Law enforcement agencies would still be permitted to accept medical supplies and equipment, furniture, school supplies, “unarmed vehicles and vessels,” protective gear, office supplies, and other such items through federal military equipment surplus programs under the bill.

Police would not be allowed to engage in vehicle pursuits unless they have probable cause to believe the suspect “committed or is committing a violent offense or sex offense,” and pursuing them is “necessary for the purpose of identifying or apprehending” them, according to the bill.

Officers would still be prohibited from pursuing such suspects unless they could also determine that “the safety risks to failing to apprehend or identify the person are considered to be greater than the safety risks associated with the vehicular pursuit” and have also obtained authorization from a supervising officer, the legislation reads.

The bill would bar police from shooting at any moving vehicle, unless the officer is facing “an imminent threat” of harm due because someone inside the vehicle is using a deadly weapon against them.

However, the moving vehicle itself would not be considered to be a “deadly weapon” under the bill, making it illegal to shoot somebody using a vehicle as a weapon.

Uniformed officers would also be prohibited from doing anything to “intentionally cover, conceal, or obscure” their badge number “or other identifying information” while on duty, the proposed legislation read.

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Written by
Holly Matkin

Holly is a former probation and parole officer who is married to a sheriff’s deputy. She is a regular contributor to Signature Montana magazine, and has written feature articles for Distinctly Montana magazine.

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Avatar Written by Holly Matkin

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