Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As a state lawmaker, I cannot predict the impacts of legislation we pass at the Legislature, but when I hear concerns from those impacted, I listen. Such is the case with several law enforcement bills from last session, which I ultimately voted against due to significant concerns around unintended consequences. These troubling police reform bills went into effect on Sunday, July 25. We are already seeing the negative impacts on public safety because of these new laws.
In this e-newsletter, I will talk about these new police reform laws, plus a visit I recently had with Walla Walla area law enforcement agencies.
Police reform background, legislation, and resources
During the historic remote/virtual session, the Legislature passed several bills aimed at greater police accountability. I agree that improvements can and should be made, and I fully support accountability, but several of these bills went the wrong direction. Instead of finding the proper balance, many of these bills have severely hampered law enforcement officers' ability to respond to emergency situations by eliminating important non-lethal tools. There are dangerous consequences for these changes and, as a result, our families and communities are less safe.
The Legislature passed House Bills 1310 (concerning permissible uses of force by law enforcement and corrections officers), 1054 (establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by law enforcement officers), and Senate Bill 5051 (concerning state oversight and accountability of law enforcement and corrections officers), all of which now make it much harder for our peace officers to do their job. These bills went into effect as law on Sunday, July 25.
The unintended consequences are already being felt by law enforcement personnel, first responders (such as firefighters), and municipalities/local government across our state.
Here are some examples:
- New police reform bills need a rewrite (Walla Walla Union-Bulletin editorial board)
- Walla Walla, Columbia County law enforcement leaders voice concern over police reform laws
- Walla Walla County Sheriff's Office: A letter to our community
- Eastern Washington law enforcement leaders concerned about new reform laws
- Police officers feel limited by new law enforcement reforms in Washington
- New police reforms will change police response
- New police reform laws affecting domestic violence cases
- Recent rash of serious incidents has sheriff concerned about reform laws
- As police adjust to reforms, crisis responders feel deserted
- Idaho deputies unable to track down suspect who crossed into Washington, citing new policing laws
For more in-depth information on these polices, please bookmark this website. You can find it by clicking here.
I also welcome your thoughts and feedback on these new laws.
Joining the conversation with local law enforcement
Recently, my seatmates – Sen. Perry Dozier and Rep. Mark Klicker – and I had the opportunity to join Walla Walla County, City of Walla Walla and College Place law enforcement leaders to discuss recent law enforcement legislation.
I look forward to the opportunity to revisit and modify the legislation in a way that better protects our communities and our officers by restoring important non-lethal tools that prevent deadly use of force situations.
I'm also hopeful that bipartisan improvements can be made during the 2022 session that accomplish many of the goals of these bills, without compromising officer and community safety.
Stay in touch – I'm your state representative year-round
With session now adjourned, I'm back in the 16th District for the interim. As I take this time to reconnect with our communities and work on policy for the 2022 session, I encourage you to reach out to me with your ideas, thoughts, questions, and concerns. You can do so by calling my office at (509) 593-4559 or sending an email to Skyler.Rude@leg.wa.gov.
Thank you for the honor of allowing me to serve you!