WA House Passes Two Police Accountability Bills

From a media release issued by Washington State House Democrats:

OLYMPIA—The Washington House of Representatives yesterday passed two police accountability bills that are part of the package proposed by the House Democrats’ Policing Policy Leadership Team.

HB 1088, by Rep. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek), toughens state law on police officer impeachment disclosures, creates best practices and online training on that subject, and requires that law enforcement agencies must inquire about past impeachment disclosures before hiring an officer.

An impeachment disclosure is an official determination that an officer engaged in misconduct affecting his or her credibility as a witness. Prosecutors are required to provide this information and any other exculpatory evidence to the defense before a trial.

The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 61-37.

“The truth matters. Our courts can’t function without it,” remarked Rep. Lovick. He continued, “That’s the bedrock foundation of our legal system: hard evidence, reliable testimony from witnesses, and high ethical standards for attorneys and law enforcement officers.”

HB 1089 is sponsored by Rep. Bill Ramos (D-Issaquah) and would provide meaningful transparency about investigations and charging decisions made after deadly force is used by police. These investigations are required under Initiative 940, passed by Washington voters in 2018.

The legislation authorizes the State Auditor to review a deadly force investigation to determine whether the involved law enforcement agencies complied with all applicable rules and procedures. Additionally, upon request of the Criminal Justice Training Commission, the State Auditor would provide review of a law enforcement agency to ensure compliance with all applicable rules and procedures governing the training and certification of the agency’s officers.

“The overwhelming majority of Washington’s law enforcement officers are doing their jobs with integrity and honor. They are committed to protecting and serving their communities. The purpose of these audits is to provide another check on the system as we continue efforts to build trust between communities and law enforcement. It’s an opportunity for ongoing learning and improving deadly force investigation policies and procedures to make sure they are working.” said Rep. Ramos.

HB 1089 received an overwhelming 80-18 vote on final passage.

Both bills now go to the state Senate for consideration there.

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By Rob Richards

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