The Peace Officer Accountability Act (HB 1202):

• Promotes public safety
• Improves trust in law enforcement
• Ensures high-quality policing
• Holds police who don’t follow the law accountably
• Holds law enforcement agencies to a reasonable care standard in the hiring, training, supervising, and disciplining of officers
• Authorizes the Attorney General’s Office to hold officers and agencies accountable for patterns and practices of violating the law

The Peace Officer Accountability Act promotes public safety by motivating police departments across the state to align their policies and training with state laws and the constitution. This Act seeks to improve trust in law enforcement by holding departments and officers to statewide standards by establishing high-quality policing in our state. When law enforcement officers or departments violate an individual’s civil rights or harm them, this
bill allows the person to hold them accountable without the shield of qualified immunity. Where an officer or department has a history of violating the law or peoples’ rights, the bill authorizes the Washington State Attorney General to step in to ensure all Washingtonians have a basic level of quality policing.

HB 1202 will place responsibility where it belongs:

Right now, victims and their families bear the emotional and financial burden when a law enforcement officer violates their rights. This bill places responsibility where it belongs, on the entity responsible for causing the harm. It encourages police departments to have sound and reasonable hiring, training, supervising, and disciplining policies while protecting officers who follow the law, the direction of their employer, and who uphold the Washington Constitution.

How is this different from current law?

Today, victims and their families must use a federal law (42 USC 1983, referred to as a 1983 claim) to sue a peace officer or department. And because of “qualified immunity”, a legal doctrine that has been an obstacle to accountability, there has been little justice for victims and their families. The justice system has two parts, criminal and civil, and HB 1202 fills in the gaps where the civil system has been a barrier to accountability. The Washington State Constitution protects individuals’ rights, however, there is currently no state law that allows individuals to sue for violations of those rights. The legislature must enact
such a law.

Doesn’t qualified immunity protect departments and peace officers from frivolous lawsuits?
No, qualified immunity shields officers who have engaged in misconduct from being held accountable. In other words, qualified immunity stops strong lawsuits from holding law enforcement responsible for harming people.

Advocacy groups on both sides of the aisle have supported ending qualified immunity.
Will this bill lead to a flood of lawsuits against officers, departments, and local governments?
No, laws that limit legal immunity for law enforcement have been passed in California, Colorado, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Mexico and there has not been a flood of litigation. An officer and their employer who

HB 1507: Office of Special Prosecutor –

Independent Prosecutor for Law Enforcement Use of Force:

HB 1507 – Developing a Proposed Substitute for House Public Safety
The Goal – A Completely Independent State-Wide Prosecutor:
We support a framework to establish a state Office of Independent Prosecution (OIP) for the prosecution of the use of force by law enforcement.

This office would parallel the new statewide Office of Independent Investigation (OII) and its investigations into officer-involved injuries or deaths, and reflects the recommendation from the Governor’s Task Force on Independent Investigations of Police Use of Force.

The Problem That is Solved:

Inherent Conflict of Interest at the Local Level:
The Task Force recommended the establishment of an independent prosecutor to address the inherent conflicts of interest present when a county prosecutor is faced with considering charges against a law enforcement officer. County prosecutors work closely with law enforcement, provide advice to local law enforcement, rely on law enforcement for gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses, and provide legal advice and defense to law enforcement. This conflict of interest cannot be remedied and interferes with the ability to impartially handle these cases. A completely independent prosecutor will address issues of fairness and credibility, and be free of conflicts of interest, either real or perceived.

We Support a Proposal that:

• Recognizes that all county prosecutors have an inherent conflict of interest when prosecuting law enforcement officers on issues of use of force, and therefore cannot be impartial.
• Establishes a state-wide Office of Independent Prosecutions for law enforcement use of force that results in deaths or serious injuries.
• Locates this statewide office in the executive branch.
This location recognizes that the State Attorney General’s Office also has conflicts of
interest when it comes to considering charges against law enforcement.
• Uses the appointment process under the Office of Independent Investigations for the
appointment by the Governor of the Independent Prosecutor. This process includes a diverse advisory board that includes families, law enforcement, a prosecutor, a defense attorney, and others.
• Addresses the concurrent jurisdiction between the county prosecutor and the independent
prosecutor by including a presumption that the county prosecutor has a conflict of interest and includes processes for any potential disputes. The processes to resolve disputes already exist in state law regarding concurrent jurisdiction between the AGO and County Prosecutors, and the proposal uses similar language.
• Directs the Office of Independent Investigations under chapter 43.102 RCW to refer all of its
completed investigations to the Independent Prosecutor.
• Vests the AGO with the authority to review the investigation file and decide whether to charge in those instances where the Independent Prosecutor declines to bring charges.

2 thoughts on “The Bills:

  1. Thanks for doing this! I am sharing with 350-Washington and my other communities.

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