Washington State Lawmakers Still Haggling Over New Policing Laws
Republican state lawmakers are continuing to raise major concerns about new policing laws in Washington.
Their have been calls for a special legislative session to reexamine the laws that some sheriffs say are vague and prevent them from doing their jobs.
Senate Republican Leader John Braun says even the Democrat who sponsored the laws admits fixes are necessary.
"They wanted to do the far left, progressive path that they had chosen and didn't want to take input from minority Republicans or from law enforcement around the state, and we're seeing the danger and risk of that come to pass," said Braun.
Democratic Representative Jesse Johnson of Federal Way crafted many of the new laws, and says only clarification is needed to ease misconceptions.
"With the use of force standard where we say an officer should leave the scene if there's not an imminent harm or there's not a serious bodily injury that's presented in that situation, that misconception is that officers will be held liable if a physical altercation ensues," said Johnson. "
Johnson says they'll likely add language to stipulate that officers have immunity from liability when transporting people.
He also says the law will be clarified to say officers can use certain types of ammunition.
Still, House GOP Leader J.T. Wilcox says the laws lack clarity and endanger everyone in Washington.
"There's hardly a family in Washington that doesn't have something at stake in terms of these very broad reaching restrictions on law enforcement," said Wilcox.
Johnson says critics are largely misinterpreting the laws. "They're not about trying to stop police from doing their jobs or from intervening into police work, but holding accountability for when physical force is used that's not supposed to be used, or when deadly force is used," Johnson said.
He thinks most of the criticism of the new police reform laws is over philosophical differences.
The laws do not includes the removal of "qualified immunity" for law enforcement officers, which Colorado and New Mexico have done.