Newhouse visits West Richland Police Department; addresses police reform

WEST RICHLAND, Wash. — Representative Dan Newhouse (R – WA) visited the new West Richland Police Department facilities today.

After the tour, he sat down with a handful of officers and first responders to get their input on the recent police reform legislation that’s passed in Washington State.

“A lot of the frustrations that the officers here in West Richland—and many, I’d probably venture to say, all law enforcement agencies in the state are experiencing— are due largely to some of the state laws that have been passed recently,” Newhouse said. “Some of those laws have been fixed over this last legislative session, but there’s still a great deal of anxiousness on the part of law enforcement.”

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During Washington State’s 2022 legislative session, a total of three different police reform laws were discussed, but only two were amended.

The two that saw changes included House Bill 2037, which redefined physical force, and House Bill 1719, which redefined ‘military equipment.’ Both the bills provided clearly outlined definitions for law enforcement agencies to more accurately perform their jobs.

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“From my own perspective, I don’t think we need to take any of those tools away from law enforcement,” Newhouse said. “I think that they need all of the resources available to them in order for them to be able to do their jobs.”

The initial reform laws, which were largely passed due to the social unrest in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, were largely met with discontent from law enforcement across Washington state.

“The general underlying issue is, some of the things that have taken away officers’ abilities to do their jobs have done two things,” Newhouse said. “They’ve made our communities less safe, [and] they’ve actually put the officers in a less safe situation as well.”

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