WA Fraternal Order of Police shares outlook on police tactics bill

KENNEWICK, Wash. – The Washington House of Representatives recently passed House Bill 1054, which relates to setting guidelines for police tactics and equipment.

Since then, it’s become Engrossed Substitute HB 1054, after peace officers in the state suggested changes to the authors.

On March 11, remote testimony was held for supporters and adversaries of the bill.

“The officer placed himself on the right side of Giovann’s car, and shot two rounds into the passenger side windshield,” the mother of Giovann Joseph McDade, who was shot and killed by Kent Police in 2017 said.

“We must scale back the militarization of police, the use of hyper-aggressive tools and tactics results in tragedy,” advocate Enoka Herat added.

Supporters backed the bill by citing officer-involved injuries and deaths that have happened in both Washington and nationwide.

“George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Manny Ellis, with the provisions in the underlying bill before you these three individuals and so many others may still very well be alive today,” Representative Jesse Johnson (D), one of the authors of HB 1054 said.

But the bill was met with some concerns, mainly the prohibition of chokeholds and neck restraints.

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“There are narrow situations where a neck restraint where used in lethal force situations should be allowed,” Jeff Devere with WACOPS explained.

Overall, the Washington Fraternal Order of Police President Marco Monteblanco said they’re satisfied with the bill after changes were made to the original text.

“It does provide a balance to what the community is needing but also provides the tools that still allows us to do our jobs,” he said.

Monteblanco, who also works for the Kennewick Police Department said they appreciate the bill authors listening to their input and professional experience.

At one point, the bill banned police departments from using a military surplus program, but that was amended so they can gain access to armored vehicles for SWAT purposes.

“Which is what our SWAT team uses here for instance, our armored vehicles to go out there to help with rescue and to also protect themselves in case of a major incident,” he said.

HB 1054 also establishes guidelines for using tear gas, when an officer can start a car chase and bans no-knock warrants.

“I think that brings a level of trust, you know with the community going forward while still being able to do our jobs effectively,” Monteblanco said.

The police officer believes the bill will provide uniform policies for departments across Washington.

The bill also requires departments to develop a new K9 work group to decide when one is and is not appropriate for police use.

“This evolution is not uncommon and we’re willing to continue to have those discussions with people and provide that professional insight and we are confident that we are going to be better for it,” Monteblanco added.

Next, the bill heads to an executive committee hearing in the senate on March 18th.