Above: Washington State Representative Cindy Ryu (D-32) sits in the House Floor Chamber just before 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning. The House convened at 9:00 a.m., but immediately adjourned to caucus. Ryu prime sponsored HB 2908 that would create a task force to review current laws, practices and policies regarding the use of deadly force by law enforcement. The bill passed out of the Washington State House of Representatives on Tuesday afternoon on a 98-0 vote. The bill now goes to the Senate.
By Janine Gates
Engrossed Substitute House Bill 2908, which will create a task force to review current laws, practices and policies regarding the use of deadly force by law enforcement, passed out of the Washington State House of Representatives on Tuesday on a 98-0 vote.
The bill, sponsored by Representative Cindy Ryu (pronounced Ree-oo), (D-32), creates a joint legislative task force on the use of deadly force in community policing.
Parts of HB 2907, a bill written and promoted by the Black Alliance of Thurston County, were rolled into Ryu's bill on February 5 in the House Public Safety Committee.
As the bill continued on its journey to the floor, amendments were added to refine the membership of the task force. As a result, representatives of the Northwest Immigration Rights Project, the Latino Civic Alliance, the Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs, and liberty organizations were added.
“We are one step closer to creating a statewide culture that garners public trust, honors the role of law enforcement to justifiably maintain public safety, and creates accountability when they unnecessarily cross this line. We can only pray that our Senators value these same principles and pass this bill," said Dr. Karen A. Johnson, chair and co-founder of the Black Alliance of Thurston County.
ESHB 2908 will create a task force with a broad coalition including legislators, law enforcement, representatives from the criminal justice system, and members of advocacy organizations.
The task force will meet at least four times in 2016 and review current laws, practices and training programs regarding the use of deadly force, look at alternatives, and submit recommendations on what changes should be made to provide better protection for community members and law enforcement.
Speaking in support of the bill, Representative Brad Klippert, (R-8), thanked Representative Ryu, and law enforcement officers for their service.
“….I sincerely want to thank each and every one of my brothers and sisters who serve us in our communities and keep us safe….It's an extremely tough job that unless you've walked a mile in those shoes, you'll never understand the split-second decisions that they have to make over and over and over again. Obviously we always want to treat our citizens with fairness, with transparency, and with reasonableness….This is a good, reasonable bill….We want to have the best law enforcement agencies in the world right here in Washington State. I think we already have that, but if we can make it better, we want to do that….” said Klippert.
Representative Sam Hunt (D-22) extended his appreciation to the Black Alliance of Thurston County for all their efforts.
Tuesday was the last day bills could be heard in their house of origin. The bill now goes to the Senate.
The Olympia Police Department and Black Alliance of Thurston County invites the community to gather on Wednesday, March 2 from 6:00 p.m. - 9 p.m. in the Commons at Capital High School, 2707 Conger Avenue NW, Olympia, to engage each other in conversation around institutional and structural racism.
“If you choose to attend, we will invite you to engage in conversations that create ownership, evoke commitment, value dissent, and treat each person as the gift they are. We will create awareness about what institutional and structural racism mean and, then, invite a few people to speak about their own experience, acting on the well-being of the whole community. You will be asked to engage in active listening as these brave souls tell their story. After the stories are told, we will invite you to contribute to conversations about the larger communal possibilities that have the potential to shift our collective experience,” said Karen Johnson in a press release.
Johnson recommends reading: http://madison365.com/index.php/2015/09/03/what-no-one-wants-to-talk-about-race-and-progressive-cities/
For more information about community conversations about racism, the Olympia Police Department, the Black Alliance of Thurston County, Karen Johnson, the City of Olympia’s Ad Hoc Committee on Police and Community Relations, body cameras, HB 2907 and HB 2908, go to Little Hollywood, www.janineslittlehollywood.blogspot.com, and type key words into the search button.