Pullman’s Police Chief says new Washington laws that restrict law enforcement threatens public safety.
Majority Democrats in the Washington Legislature passed police reform bills in the last session. Some of those new laws took effect Sunday. Pullman Police Chief Gary Jenkins issued a statement informing the public of the law enforcement tactics that are now illegal in Washington.
One bill virtually eliminates all police vehicle pursuits unless a specific serious crime has occurred like rape or murder. The law also bans law enforcement from having what’s described as “military equipment.” That rule means that the Pullman PD can no longer use their less than lethal bean bag guns. Officers are now banned from using any degree of force in Washington unless probable cause exists to arrest or protect someone from imminent harm. Police are prohibited from helping people with mental health issues unless they have committed a crime. Washington law enforcement must exhaust available and appropriate de-escalation tactics before using physical force.
Chief Jenkins notes that the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs lobbied state lawmakers to lessen the negative impacts of the bills. He says those legislators “indicated they had no interest in their suggestions.” Chief Jenkins also notes that the local Washington legislative delegation, Republicans Mark Schoesler in the senate and Joe Schmick and Mary Dye in the house voted against the bills restricting police tactics.
Chief Jenkins says, “These new laws threaten the safety of our Pullman community while increasing risks faced by law enforcement officers.” He added that the Pullman PD remains committed to providing the community with the best service and safety and will work within in the new restrictions to keep Pullman as safe as possible.
Whitman County Sheriff Brett Myers also issued a statement regarding the new rules. He says he’s confident his office can continue to accomplish their primary mission to protect and serve. Sheriff Myers says the new police restrictions will have an impact on the services his deputies provide. He hopes to work with elected officials to remedy the problems that have been caused by the new restrictions on Washington law enforcement.
You can find Chief Jenkins statement here https://www.pullman-wa.gov/government/departments/police_department/news___statistics/new_legislation__impact_to_policing_in_pullman?fbclid=IwAR08tHQzYhUTYbkMvXA2VID7QVQgSHijfA6_UA1yJvXNNETxpWwfAY_4Ej8