Archive for Task Force

Two bills on use of deadly force by police pass out of committee

By | February 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

The House Committee on Public Safety voted to advance two bills Friday concerning the use of deadly force by police officers. The bills focus on data collection and the formation of a new task force on community policing.

The committee chose not to vote on a third, more controversial bill, that would change current law to make it easier to criminally charge a police officer for improper use of deadly force. Nearly 70 people testified on that bill before the committee earlier this week.

Members voted to pass House Bill 2908 out committee unanimously. It establishes the “Community Policing Standards Task Force for a Safer Washington,” tasked with reviewing:

  • Laws, practices and training programs regarding the use of deadly force by law enforcement
  • Policies, practices and tools that are available as an alternative to deadly force (for example, tasers and other non-lethal weapons)

It must also recommend modifications to the “standards for justifiable homicide and criminal liability.” A preliminary report is due at the end of the year, with a final report in 2017.

The committee amended the bill to add more seats to the task force, including representatives from the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, the Black Alliance of Thurston County, and the Disability Rights of Washington. It removed the representative from the Attorney General’s office.

House Public Safety Committee Chair Rep. Roger Goodman (right) and Ranking Minority Member Rep. Brad Klippert on Feb. 5.

House Public Safety Committee Chair Rep. Roger Goodman (right) and Ranking Minority Member Rep. Brad Klippert on Feb. 5.

Committee Chair Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, said the bill is a way to build a relationship between law enforcement and the public.

“There is not enough trust between the community — whether they are vulnerable communities, under-served communities, or the community in general — and our hard working law enforcement,” he said.

“We need to be listening more to one and other. And that means gathering around the table in a respectful and deliberate fashion.”

The second bill, House Bill 2882, would require Washington law enforcement agencies to report data on justifiable homicides and instances of deadly force to the Attorney General annually.

Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, said that the state has never collected this type of data.

“This is not to besmirch law enforcement, this is just to gather the data,” she said. “And if it turns out that most of the homicides were justifiable, that’s one thing. If it turns out that it wasn’t, then we need to do something to change the law.”

Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, voted against the bill because of the deadlines and requirements outlined for law enforcement, but said he agreed with the goal of the bill.

The bill was passed out of committee with five in favor and four opposed.

Watch TVW video of the vote here.

Lawmakers hear testimony on bill to change deadly force law for police

By | February 5, 2016 | 0 Comments

A proposal that would change the standard in Washington for which police officers could be charged with a crime for improper use of deadly force drew an overflow crowd to Olympia on Wednesday.

Under current state law, a police officer cannot be held criminally liable for using deadly force when acting “without malice and with a good faith.”

House Bill 2907 would change that, removing immunity for officers acting without malice and with good faith. It also outlines when deadly force is justifiable.

“Its time to change this immeasurable, impossible to prove, and imprecise law. Why? Because we are dealing with high value lives,” said Karen Johnson with the Black Alliance of Thurston County, who requested the legislation.

She said there is a lack of trust between communities and law enforcement.

Watch TVW video of the hearing here.

Prime sponsor of the bill Rep. Luis Moscoso, D- Bothell, said there needs to be an open and transparent discussion about police shootings.

“There’s not a person in this room that hasn’t been paying attention to a lot the shootings in this country,” he said. “We are all concerned about why that’s been happening and how we can prevent that.” We need to have a civil discussion on the issue.”

Tom McBride, the executive secretary of the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, testified in opposition to the bill. He refuted the idea that police officers are not prosecuted for wrongdoing.

“There’s not a resistance to filing charges when they’re deserved, whether it’s a police officer or anyone else,” he said. “What we are interested in is a fair standard upon which to base our decisions.”

He said that fair standard has to take into account what police officers are asked to do each day, which is put themselves into “ambiguous, high-risk situations.”

Also speaking in opposition to the bill was Troy Meyers, an instructor at at the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission.

“One of the things that I have to tell them with every graduating class is that the state has their back if they act with good faith,” he said. “I don’t want to have to stop saying that.”

Meyers said that while much of the debate has focused on racial injustice, the bill doesn’t do anything to address race or mental health problem.

“I expect my state to address those things head-on if that’s really our concern,” he said.

An overflow room waits to testify at the House Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. More than 65 people signed in to testify.

An overflow room at the House Public Safety Committee on Wednesday. More than 65 people signed in to testify.

Carlos Bratcher with the Seattle chapter of the National Black Police Association urged lawmakers to pass the bill, saying it will provide clarity to police officer. He said he’s shocked over what he’s seen in the last few years with police shootings

“As with any good practicing law enforcement officer, if I have a colleague or another officer that commits the use of deadly force under questionable circumstances, I want to see them being held accountable, as does any citizen in the state,” he said.

Other supporters say is too difficult to prosecute police officers in Washington. Pastor Richmond Johnson said the current law ties the hands of prosecutors — even when prosecution is needed.

“There’s a negative effect when the culture says shoot first. I’m persuaded that ‘shooting first’ is a result of a weak mind. We’ve got to turn the culture around,” said Johnson, who is the director of Partnering for Youth Achievement in Bremerton and has served on a police and community task force.

Mitch Barker represents the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, and spoke in opposition to the bill.

He said the goal should not be to prosecute more officers, but to find a way to reduce the number of police shootings.

The committee also heard House Bill 2908, which would create a joint legislative task force on community policing standards, as well as a House Bill 2882 requiring law enforcement to collect data on deadly force incidents. Many of those who testified in favor of the deadly force bill were also in favor of the other bills.

On TVW this week: Retirement insecurity, outdoor task force, fish and wildlife meeting

By | April 7, 2014 | 0 Comments

Here are the events TVW is covering live this week:

Tuesday, April 8 at 10 a.m.: TVW will live broadcast a work session held by Democratic lawmakers on the issue of retirement insecurity. Several experts will discuss retirement issues faced by many of the state’s residents.

Participants include Sen. Steve Conway (D-Tacoma), Sen. Karen Keiser (D-Kent), Sen. Bob Hasegawa (D-Seattle), Sen. Maralyn Chase (D-Shoreline), Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-Seattle); plus Diane Oakley, Executive Director, National Institute on Retirement Security; Teresa Ghilarducci, Director Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis, The New School For Social Research; Terry Gardiner, VP Policy and Strategy, Small Business Majority; and Ingrid McDonald, Advocacy Director, AARP Washington.

Wednesday, April 9 at 9 a.m.: TVW will live webcast the first meeting of the Blue Ribbon Task Force on Parks and Outdoor Recreation, which was established by Gov. Jay Inslee in an executive order. The 28-member task force must come up with a plan by September to promote Washington’s parks and outdoor recreation assets, with a focus on increasing jobs and outdoor activities. The meeting agenda is available here. The task force includes 16 members involved in recreation businesses or organizations, such as REI and Sierra Club, four legislators and eight state agency representatives.

Watch the live webcast at this link.

April 11-12, 8:30 a.m.: TVW will live webcast the two day meeting of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission. The full agenda is available here. Webcast links can be found on TVW’s daily schedule page.

A preview of the 2009 legislative session

By | January 7, 2009 | 0 Comments

Yesterday, lawmakers gathered in Olympia with dozens of reporters and editors from around the state for the annual Associated Press legislative forum. Their message: The budget will dominate this 105-day session.

Another message: This session will end in 105 days. To paraphrase Marty Brown, Gov. Chris Gregoire’s Legislative director: Budget decisions won’t get easier with more time. There’s no way to predict whether Legislators will be able to agree on a budget by the end of regular session, but several said it was an important goal.

Watch the entire forum here:

On the budget:

Education task force: Spend more on schools, require more instruction days

By | December 10, 2008 | 0 Comments

After more than four years of study and discussion (in two different iterations), the Basic Education Finance task force has finalized its recommendations for school funding and reform.

Their call: Schools need more money. Much more. And more days of instruction. And teachers who are paid what they’re worth on the market, then given raises based on performance. And smaller classes. And money for libraries and technology.

The conflict: The state, as you’ll get used to hearing, is facing a budget shortfall of an estimated $5 billion.

Here’s the AP’s summary, courtesy of The Seattle Times.

And over here you’ll find all the task force hearings on TVW. (more…)