Washington

What to do here

Click a "Get Template" button to get an email template about a specific issue. Edit the template to connect on a more personal level with your lawmaker. See the Contacting Logistics page for information about how to write an effective email to your lawmakers. Get your lawmakers' emails with the search box to the right. Send the email!

Be sure to check out the Next Steps at the bottom of the page. Go to the References/Further Reading page to see our sources and do some research of your own.

Last updated March 5, 2020

Summary

Key:

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Legislation Achieved

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Some Progress

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No Progress

Demilitarization

Learn about demilitarization and the specific issues below on the Demilitarization page (opens in a new window).

 

No knock warrants

No Progress:

Washington has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants.

1033 purchases

No Progress:

Washington has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.

Military style training

Some Progress:

There has been a significant shift in most WA counties to focus on policing that is more beneficial to each individual community. In 2015, Gov. Jay Inslee (D) signed a law requiring all Washington police officers to undergo crisis intervention training.

SWAT data

No Progress:

Washington has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.

For Profit Policing

Learn about for profit policing and the specific issues below on the For Profit Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Civil asset forfeiture

No Progress:

Washington has not yet enacted a law ending civil asset forfeiture. The state has incredibly detailed and strict seizure and forfeiture laws. Most personal property and assets can be seized if they are connected to a suspected crime. The burden of proof remains on the citizen as well.

Quotas

No Progress:

Washington has not yet enacted a law ending quotas for low-level arrests. In February 2020, the Senate passed HB 6316 to prevent ticket and other quotas from being used in assessing police officers for raises or promotions. The bill was debated in the House, and then returned to the Senate Rules Committee in March. The bill died in committee.

Cost of misconduct

No Progress:

Washington has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.

Broken Windows Policing

Learn about broken windows policing and the specific issues below on the Broken Windows Policing page (opens in a new window).

 

Minor offenses

No Progress:

Washington has not yet enacted a law decriminalizing minor offenses that do not threaten public safety such as spitting and loitering. The City of Seattle has implemented minor changes to their enforcement of minor offenses, but the data available suggest race plays into citations of minor non-threatening offenses.

Objective justification for stops

Achieved:

In Washington, stops must be made based on objective fact and "racial incongruity or presence in a high crime area" are not justifiable reasons for a stop.

Reporting stop details

No Progress:

Washington has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found). Locally, Seattle officers are required to document stops and the presence or use of weapons. Other major cities require the individual to request a police record.

Accountability

Learn about accountability and the specific issues below on the Accountability page (opens in a new window).

 

Reckless civil rights violation

Some Progress:

2018 Citizen Initiative I-940 states that police officers are held to a "good faith" standard when it comes to the use of deadly force. There are still a great number of qualifiers on how/ when police will be held accountable for use of deadly force but this is an improvement to prior legislation.

Independent investigation

Some Progress:

Washington has not yet enacted a law institutionalizing an independent prosecutor within the state’s Department of Justice for instances of police misconduct. Cities like Seattle and Spokane have their own offices for police accountability, but those offices only address issues within the city limits.

Pending Legislation: HB. 1267, introduced in February 2021, requires that all investigations of police conduct that lead to death or serious injury must be managed by an independent office within the Office of the Governor.

Qualified immunity

Some Progress:

The only immunity that is abundantly clear in Washington is civil immunity, police officers, sheriffs and state patrol are protected from civil charges due to physical injury or property damage as a result of their work.

Reinvesting in Communities

Learn about reinvesting in communities and the specific issues below on the Reinvesting in Communities page (opens in a new window).

 

Mental health response

Some Progress:

Grant money has been made available for police departments to apply for with a response plan that incorporates mental health professionals into how the department responds to mental health calls. Locally, officers in King County can partner with crisis teams of mental health professionals to allow access to those services through a police call. The City of Seattle also has training for officers on mental health crisis response.

Education, Housing, Community Health Resources

No Progress:

It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.

Notably, the Seattle City Council voted in November 2020 to cut the police department's budget by 18% and reallocate city funds to community solutions.

Next Steps

No matter what, register to vote:

Contacting officials is just one piece of the puzzle we can't stop there. We need to make sure our elected officials reflect our values and support reform at every level of government. Register here:

To keep these policies at the forefront:

Keep emailing about them (if you just finished the 5 Days Challenge, keep up the schedule—set reminders in your phone to email about each issue on its specific day).

To ask for more than this:

Use our templates as a model to ask for bigger changes. Color for Change and The Movement for Black Lives both have specific policy related to a reimagined law enforcement system. If you think there are additional policies we ought to consider, send your thoughts our way.

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