Rheta Rubenstein / Ridgefield
The Aug. 4 version of The Reflector revealed an article relaying Sheriff Atkins’s issues about new legal guidelines governing policing in Washington state. I want to reply.
I agree with Atkins that these dozen legal guidelines are a big bundle of police reforms. They got here from the exhausting work of legislators, regulation enforcement and activists across the state. I disagree along with his assertion that these legal guidelines weren’t handed by the individuals and weren’t written with regulation enforcement collaboration. We stay in a democratic republic. The legislators characterize the voice of the individuals. And regulation enforcement officers and their representatives spoke to legislators repeatedly at hearings at a number of committee ranges.
The sheriff is anxious that within the absence of against the law, officers have a “obligation to go away the scene.” This represents a basic misunderstanding of the brand new legal guidelines. Police and sheriff’s deputies are public protectors. It’s their obligation to point out up, consider a scenario, and, if mandatory, intervene. What the brand new legal guidelines prohibit is “use of drive,” not “exhibiting up.” The state legal professional common has simply issued an opinion affirming this interpretation. What the brand new legal guidelines require is “cheap care.” Officers are anticipated to deescalate. This implies take time, take distance, take cowl, name for help (every as mandatory), keep vigilant and use the bottom stage of drive mandatory to chill down a scenario. Generally, after a scenario has calmed, leaving the scene is an efficient response.
One of many impetuses for these new legal guidelines is the excessive variety of individuals killed in Washington by regulation enforcement. Clark County Sheriff’s Workplace itself has had two inside the final yr. The state has had over 100 since I-940 grew to become regulation in December of 2018. We should do higher.
I’m glad Atkins espouses the targets “to guard and safeguard the group.” Holding us all secure ought to be extra, not much less, potential with the brand new legal guidelines.