Several new laws that went into effect this summer changed policing in the State of Washington. But most residents of the state believe that the reforms have hurt public safety.
According to a KING 5 News poll that questioned 650 adults across the state, 15% of respondents said the new laws have made policing better, 37% said “worse.”
One-fifth, 20%, said the laws have had no impact.
“Not sure” was selected by 27% of the respondents.
The standards for use of force, and when someone can be chased, became higher after the new laws went into effect in July. Techniques like chokeholds and neck restraints were banned. Limits were placed on when tear gas can be used.
Under the new law, police cannot pursue a suspect in a vehicle at all without probable cause, even if officers believe they have the suspect.
”The numbers certainly speak for themselves,” said Steven Strachan, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.
Strachan said a number of the laws need to be clarified, something he hopes happens in next year’s legislative session.
”Is detaining someone use of force? That’s not clear under the new laws. We want to make that crystal clear so law enforcement knows what is needed,” Strachan said.
Rep. Jesse Johnson, who sponsored some of the reform bills, said he plans on revisiting them when lawmakers return to Olympia in January.
“I think we do have some space for clarification in the law. But I think we're going to get to the right policy by the end of this upcoming session,” said Johnson (D-Federal Way).
“I think there has been a lot of misinformation and mischaracterization of the bills by some in law enforcement,” Johnson said.