WA FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE - LEGISLATIVE APPROACHES

We share with our fellow law enforcement organizations a mutual goal of protecting both the safety of peace officers in the field and the communities they serve. Where we differ is in our approaches for securing that safety and for ensuring that officers have the policies, procedures, tools, and training necessary to do their jobs.

WAFOP leadership and our members believe that, in the wake of a multitude of well-publicized events here in Washington and across the country, it is inevitable that the 2021 session of the Legislature would produce significant changes to state law governing the way in which we go about our day-to-day work. We owe it to our members and to those we serve to ensure that any such changes balance the needs of the community with the needs of officers in the field. And we owe it to the community and the officers to come to the table with a good heart and open mind. For this reason, we have chosen to engage and connect with community organizations, victims’ advocacy groups, and lawmakers themselves to seek common ground without unduly compromising the ability of our members and all peace officers to do their jobs.

We appreciate the willingness of the bill sponsors and other legislators to listen and respond to our concerns about proposed legislation. Examples of important changes that have been accepted as a result of our input include amendments to:

  • Remove a proposed new peace officer use of force criminal standard (HB 1310)
  • Clarify how continued use of teargas will be allowed, how only “armed” vehicles are disallowed, and placing vehicular pursuit policy directly into statute (HB 1054)
  • Establish a study group to analyze the use of K-9 patrols rather than limit them to on-leash only use (HB 1054).

As a result, while there are some provisions in the legislation that continue to give us pause, on the whole, the bills have become more balanced proposals that will allow our members to continue safely serving their community. When other stakeholders listen and make meaningful compromises that respond to our concerns, we believe that we in law enforcement must recognize the significance of the collaboration, and not continue to fight for additional changes.

We believe that we should recognize changing realities governing our work, challenge our own comfort level with the status quo, be willing to pivot, and move forward to help shape community-driven changes. This approach is what’s necessary to begin rebuilding the trust, confidence and relationships we need within the communities we serve.

For these reasons, WAFOP will continue representing our members’ interests with integrity by engaging legislators and other stakeholders in good faith efforts to find workable solutions to the challenges facing our profession and our communities. We believe this is our duty.

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