Beginning the transition from “Law Enforcement” to “Police Service”

Fully Implement I-940 Immediately and expand training for sheriff’s deputies

Initiative 940 was designed to:

  • Create a good faith test to determine when the use of deadly force by police is justifiable
  • Require police to receive de-escalation and mental health training
  • Provide that police have a duty to render first aid

I-940 also removed the requirement that prosecutors show that a law enforcement officer acted with malice to be convicted.

Pierce County must fully implement the provisions of I-940.

The council must look into expanding on training for law enforcement officers. The county should investigate best practices from the Criminal Justice Training Commission and review options and alternatives from other states which have shown success in reducing racial bias.


Demilitarize the police

It shouldn’t be a “police force”, it should be a “police service”.

The federal government has often surplussed used military equipment to local governments for use in local law enforcement. However, even controlling for other possible factors in police violence (such as household income, overall and black population, violent-crime levels and drug use), more-militarized law enforcement agencies were associated with more civilians killed each year by police. When a county goes from receiving no military equipment to $2,539,767 worth (the largest figure that went to one agency in this Washington Post study), more than twice as many civilians are likely to die in that county the following year.

Tanks and other military tools have no real use in a police department. Often, the use and display of these materials generate fear of the department and do not provide the protection that was intended. Acquisition of this equipment can even make the police more violent.

The county needs to stop these purchases and reinvest the money more wisely.


End Qualified Immunity for Government Employees and Elected Officials

Qualified Immunity is a special protection that basically provides that government officials can only be held accountable for violating someone’s rights if a court has previously ruled that it was “clearly established” those precise actions were unconstitutional.

If no such decision exists—or it exists, but just in another jurisdiction—the official is immune, even if the official intentionally violated the law.

This is too high a bar for most cases to move forward for consideration.

I support removing qualified immunity for all government officials, including sheriff’s deputies.


Body Cameras for All Pierce County Sheriff Deputies

Pierce County needs to issue body cameras to our deputies and require them to be activated at all times. There has been a lot of discussion by elected officials and law enforcement on this issue.

The policy making body for local government is the County Council, which will have to work with the Executive and Sheriff to allocate the money necessary to stand up the program.

Ideally, this program would operate independently of the sheriff’s office, utilizing an entity with existing expertise in handling public records requests. My suggestion is that the management of body cam data be handled through the E-911 program, a county wide independent authority, which already handles 911 public records. Since this is a regional body, the county could contract with them for the service.

This program would allow the E-911 system to stand up this pilot and make it possible for other jurisdictions to be included. The county has the ability to lead and provide a means for all jurisdictions to obtain this service. We should do so.