A bill under consideration in the Washington state legislature would prohibit several police tactics, including the use of chokeholds, tear gas, and police dogs for pursuing and apprehending and arresting suspects.
“By doing away with dangerous and harmful tactics, we can begin to rebuild trust between law enforcement and communities of color,” said Rep. Jesse Johnson (D), the bill’s sponsor. “We can deliver on true public safety that is equitable and just.”
Banning the use of police dogs will put the public in greater jeopardy from crime, Cowlitz County Chief Criminal Deputy Troy Brightbill told KTVB 7.
“I think that if this is passed as written, it’ll make our job more difficult,” Brightbill said. “It’ll make things less safe for our communities and law enforcement officers.”
Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Deputy Brady Spaulding partners with a K-9 named Icarus. Spaulding says the animals are not attack dogs but instead are used as trackers because of their heightened sense of smell.
It would be a mistake to eliminate the use of police dogs, Spaulding told KTVB 7.
“They are at times the ones that go out in front of us, and they warn us of dangers,” Spaulding said. “It is going to put a lot more cops at risk of getting hurt or killed, and it’s a danger to the community.”
In addition to HB 1054, Washington state Democrats have sponsored three criminal justice reform bills: SB 5121, SB 5036, and SB 5164. Each of the bills is likely to result in inmates being released from prison sooner, notes Republican Senator Mark Shloeser in a guest column in The East Washingtonian.
“In just the first few weeks of this year’s session, a number of disturbing measures have been introduced—and if passed and signed into law, they likely will make our population less safe,” Shloeser writes. “When serial offenders are in jail, people on the outside are protected from them. For the inmates who would benefit from this bill, early release could allow for a quicker return to victimizing the public.
“One of my Senate colleagues aptly said this proposal would create a Running Start-style program for serial criminals at the public’s expense,” Shloeser writes. “We cannot afford to let that happen.”
Retired SWAT Officer Steve Rodriguez told Budget and Tax News the residents of Washington State will suffer the consequences of their votes in recent elections.
“It may sound harsh, but at this point politicians, and by extension the public, are making informed decisions about the places they want to live, work, and raise their children,” Rodriguez said.
As an example of those consequences, the city of Seattle has been besieged by crime over the past year, Budget and Tax News reports. Crime rates are rising, and activists are calling for further defunding of the police on top of the proposed state bills to reduce sentences for criminals and restrict law enforcement tactics.
“The number of soft-on-crime bills before the Legislature this year follows last summer’s bizarre decisions by Seattle leaders to keep police from stopping criminal activity during the riots there following George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis,” Shloeser writes. “Those shocking scenes, including the lawlessness in the ‘CHOP Zone’ near downtown Seattle, were the result of Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and other Seattle leaders turning their backs on law-abiding citizens and caving to chaos. Our state’s leaders cannot follow that same path.”