The CPC strongly supports Senate Bill 5051 in order to increase police accountability and transparency statewide.
We have seen the failures of Washington’s de-certification system firsthand. In 2010, John T Williams, a First Nations woodcarver, was shot by Seattle Police officer Ian Burke. That shooting was unjustified and directly led to a Department of Justice investigation that found Seattle failed to meet the standards of constitutional policing. Despite all of that, under the current system, Ian Burke could not* be decertified in Washington State. This is unacceptable.
Currently, officers fired for misconduct at one police department are able to get jobs as police officers in other jurisdictions, moving bad police officers around the state rather than ensuring they are removed from service. Officers who are unwilling, or unable, to act in accordance with rules and standards set by their communities should not be able to remain in the profession as their continued presence and actions can further erode public trust.
Right now, we have the opportunity to make crucial changes to police accountability and oversight in Washington. The CPC stands in support of SB 5051 and urges the committee to pass this legislation to help advance police accountability.
Background on this legislation
The bill passed the Senate and is being heard for the first time in the House Committee on Public Safety at 1:30 PM today.
- Modifies the priorities and composition of the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC).
- Expands the background investigation requirements for persons applying for peace officer, reserve officer, and corrections officer positions.
- Expands the conduct for which the certification of a peace officer or a corrections officer may be revoked.
- Requires employing agencies to report all separation and disciplinary matters regarding a certified officer to the CJTC.
- Removes confidentiality of complaints, investigations, and disciplinary actions for certified officers and requires information be maintained on a publicly searchable database.