2021 Session Review: Police ReformSession review
Public Safety, Law Enforcement & Courts
After months of protests across the country calling for racial justice during the 2020 interim, Democrat majorities in the state legislature made it clear that their prioritization of equity during the 2021 legislative session would be heavily focused on criminal justice reform. The increased use of body cameras and citizens posting smartphone recordings of controversial police interactions with people of color seems to be intensifying and sustaining calls for nationwide reform by groups such as Black Lives Matter (BLM). BLM focused their efforts mainly on the themes of “defunding the police,” and putting an end to “systemic racism” throughout the criminal justice system. In response, Democrat reforms brought forth in Washington State during the 2021 legislative session were predominantly partisan and can essentially be broken down into two categories: Reducing criminal penalties for current and future offenders and increasing police oversight and accountability. This brief focuses on the second category of police reforms made during the legislative session.