Guest Commentary: Special Session Needed to Fix Confusing Police Reform Bills


Editor’s Note: Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia, and House Republican Leader J.T. Wilcox, R-Yelm, issued the following statement in response to insistence from Democrats that law enforcement and legislators are overreacting to new laws on policing.


Our offices have received emails from people who are not just concerned about the effects of House Bills 1310 and 1054, but are seriously afraid for their safety and the well-being of their family members.

We have also heard from local government officials who have questions about the ambiguous and conflicting language of the legislation. It’s telling that Democrats are dismissing the concerns and feedback from those with a lifetime of law enforcement experience who are being honest and forthcoming in their assessment of the current situation.

Although legislators make decisions on behalf of the public all the time, it’s elitist and condescending for those who support these bills to ignore the suffering we are seeing across the state and assert that they know best. Nothing is more important than public safety.

It’s foundational.

Some have pointed out that members of law enforcement were consulted in the process of developing the legislation — as if that makes law enforcement complicit in the harm the laws are doing.

In reality, law enforcement’s hands were tied.

They tried to engage in the process knowing it was not likely to result in substantially improved policy — they were instead hoping for the least-harmful bills possible, knowing the majority could pass whatever they wanted.

And that’s what they did.

Democrats passed exactly the bills they wanted over the objections of citizens, Republican legislators and many in law enforcement. The sponsor of the bills now apparently says that fixes are needed.

We could not agree more.

Republicans have called for a special session to address this matter and are ready to contribute to bipartisan, reasonable revisions right away. The legislation never should have passed in its current form.

Democrats didn’t want substantial “fixes” during the process because they felt they already knew the right answers. Now they’ve had to ask the attorney general to rescue them from a fiasco that might have been avoided if they hadn’t been in such a rush. That’s no way to make good policy.

Public safety is a priority for Republicans. We will continue to be supportive of legislation that is balanced. But when considering policies, those with decades of policing experience must be more involved. Their expertise should be drawn upon, not dismissed.

We all want members of law enforcement to be accountable and respectful to the neighborhoods they serve. But hamstringing their ability to protect the public and themselves is wrong and dangerous.



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  • ghostrider

    Once again our politicians have responded irresponsibly to concerns of the media. The press has been screaming about police shootings of blacks, Black Lives Matter, and Defund the Police. So, they hurriedly put together confusing and conflicting legislation and pass it over the objections of the people who actually have to follow their laws. As for the police shooting of blacks, of course it's horrible. It's horrible that anyone should be shot, and almost as bad for the police person that did the shooting. They have to live with that for the rest of their lives. Killing another person is something that is difficult, if not impossible, to get over. However, I would point out that according to FBI statistics, twice as many whites are killed by police as blacks. Don't believe me? Look it up. The statistics are readily available. As for Black Lives Matter - ALL lives matter. And for Defund the Police ask people in Portland how that's working. Or Minneapolis. Or New York. Or Seattle. It's a disaster. Crime skyrockets and there aren't enough police to handle all of the crime. A similar situation is happening in England right now. It's gotten to the point there that if you're robbed and can't name the burglar the police will not respond or take a report. Too bad. Too much other crime.

    I have a solution for part of this problem and the reason for this article. It's called TERM LIMITS. Get rid of professional politicians. Perhaps they will then focus on what's important and what's none of their business. And as long as we have a Democrat for Governor, a Democratically controlled legislature, don't expect anything to change any time soon.

    Friday, August 13, 2021 Report this