KENNEWICK — March 6, 2023 — The Washington Fraternal Order of Police (WAFOP) issued the following statement regarding two bills aimed at improving law enforcement agency and peace officer accountability:
“The Washington Fraternal Order of Police supports Second Substitute House Bill 1445, which would give the Attorney General authority to investigate whether a law enforcement agencies’ insufficient policies, training, oversight practices or accountability systems create an atmosphere that leads to or accepts inappropriate behaviors among its peace offers,” said President Marco Monteblanco.
“We recognize that the communities we serve rightly expect more accountability for the actions of peace officers. In our experience, the root cause of unacceptable actions by peace officers in the field can often be directly traced to the hiring practices, training, and culture of the agency. To hold a peace officer accountable without examining agency culture and practices would be inappropriate and will not result in meaningful changes.”
Monteblanco said this is also why WAFOP opposes Second Substitute House Bill 1025, which would subject officers to an unsafe work environment and compromise their ability to protect those they have been sworn to serve. He added that this opposition comes after having worked on the issue for some time.
“We believe that establishing shared accountability between peace officers, who can and are already being sued in our state, and their employing law enforcement agency is a balanced approach that is both more equitable and more effective than the qualified immunity bills enacted by or under consideration in other states,” he added.
“Unfortunately, House Bill 1025 effectively removes the accountability for any employing agency if their training was done by the state’s Criminal Justice Training Commission or if the policy at issue conformed to published model guidance drafted by the Washington office of the attorney general at the specific request of the Legislature. Since virtually all state and local law enforcement officers in Washington are required to complete CJTC training, this effectively removes that accountability,” Monteblanco said. He also noted that the training and policy exemptions included in the bill do not address the important issue of agency culture.
“Restoring the trust between law enforcement agencies, peace officers and the communities they serve requires focused attention on a department’s hiring, training, policy and culture. Law enforcement accountability must also extend to the employing agency.”
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