Why Democrats’ police reform bills have made communities less safe

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In the 2021 legislative session, majority party Democrats passed several police-reform bills. Some of these measures disarmed the police and took away important tools used by law enforcement to de-escalate situations. There are dangerous consequences for these changes and, as a result, communities are now less safe.

House Republicans believe police officers were already held to a very high standard, but they should not be held to an impossible one. A vast majority of police officers are hard-working, dedicated, and honorable public servants. And they put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe. If a police officer does not act in way consistent with law enforcement expectations, he or she should be held accountable.

Did you know?

  • Overall crime in Washington State increased in 2020.
  • Washington is ranked 51st out of the 50 states and District of Columbia for the number of officers per thousand people.
  • Reported cases of officers assaulted was up 6% in 2020 and has increased 67% since 2016.

Source: Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs | News release | July 7, 2021

First responders have serious concerns with some of these measures passed by Democrats and are educating their professions, elected officials, and the public on the real-world ramifications. You can learn more about these concerns by clicking on the red tabs below.

House Republicans fought and voted against these harmful new bills explained below. We understand that good police officers will leave the profession, and that good people will not pursue law enforcement as a career option, because of these bills and the “defund the police” movement. The Legislature needs to focus on real solutions that will bridge the gap of the already-fragile relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve, not widen it.

House Bill 1054 takes away necessary and imperative tools police officers use to keep themselves, and the communities they serve, safe. The bill removes many of the tools police officers rely on to de-escalate situations and avoid the necessity to use deadly force. It prohibits police officers from using chokeholds and neck restraints, and certain types of equipment. It also restricts the use of tear gas, police dogs and instances in which police officers may be involved in vehicular pursuits. The legislation passed 55-42 in the state House of Representatives. Signed by governor.

“I want to be a ‘yes’ on this bill. I can’t be today because of the pieces that are still left over that I feel will harm public safety. Government’s duty, our duty, is to keep the public safe.”

—Gina Mosbrucker, ranking Republican on the House Public Safety Committee

What first responders are saying

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House Bill 1310 establishes standards for when law enforcement can use physical or deadly force, and requires the Attorney General and Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) to develop model policies and training on use of force and de-escalation tactics consistent with standards provided in the legislation. The bill fails to acknowledge the realities that police officers face every day and fails to incorporate a “reasonable officer” standard that accounts for these realities. The legislation passed 55-42 in the state House of Representatives. Signed by governor.

“As a former law enforcement officer, I understand what we need to do. I understand we need to pass policy. But I want to take a moment to say let’s not forget that we cannot ties the hands of the people who are willing to die to protect us. Madam Speaker, I urge a ‘no’ vote.”

—Jacquelin Maycumber, House Republican Floor Leader

What first responders are saying

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Senate Bill 5051 increases the membership of the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) from 16 to 21 by adding additional civilian members, bringing law enforcement membership on the commission below a 50% majority. The bill grants the CJTC with new discretion to unilaterally suspend and decertify officers, and lowers the burden of proof and expands reasons for mandatory decertification and suspension of a police officer. It gives unprecedented authority over the careers and lives of members of law enforcement to a commission that can be controlled by individuals who may lack an understanding of the profession and responsibilities of police officers. This bill endangers the lives of our police officers and the safety of our communities. The legislation passed 54-43 in the state House of Representatives. Signed by governor.

“One of the people who represents Washington State Patrol talked to us recently and said, ‘I have something happening that has never happened before in all my time with the Patrol. I have people coming up to me and saying, how soon can I retire? How soon can I get out of this profession?’ They feel disrespected. They feel with one slip they’re going be decertified and booted out of the profession they planned on making a lifetime career … because of bills like this.”

—Rep. Brad Klippert, assistant ranking Republican on the House Public Safety Committee

Real-life examples of legislation’s impact

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