October 27, 2021

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Legal Memo States Reform Regulation Does not Protect against Police Reaction | Washington News

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A legal memo from the Washington Attorney General’s business office says that the state’s new police use-of-power legislation does not avoid officers from responding to non-legal phone calls like psychological overall health and other community welfare calls.

Various Washington law enforcement companies experienced signaled their intent to stop responding to phone calls for assistance involving non-felony actions because of a measure that instructs officers to, among the other things, exhaust de-escalation strategies and “(go away) the area if there is no menace of imminent damage and no criminal offense has been dedicated.” The bill was one of many police reform payments that the Legislature passed this yr, and which took result July 25.

Northwest Information Network reported Thursday that in the memo to point out lawmakers this week, Deputy Solicitor General Alicia Young and Assistant Legal professional General Shelley Williams wrote that the law “neither alters nor limits (the) authority” of law enforcement to react to non-legal phone calls for aid.

The attorneys claimed that Washington courts and regulation figure out anything identified as the “community caretaking doctrine” and cited a 2019 Washington Supreme Court belief that termed law enforcement officers “jacks of all trades” who “frequently have interaction in local community caretaking features that are unrelated to the detection and investigation of crime.”

The memo is not regarded as a formal authorized viewpoint from the lawyer general’s place of work, but was just a “carefully deemed lawful opinion” of the authors.

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Rep. Jesse Johnson, the vice chair of the Community Basic safety committee and the prime sponsor of the evaluate in concern, explained he designs to ask for a formal viewpoint from the legal professional general’s office, which could just take a number of months.

“We hope this robust guidance from the Attorney General’s Office is clarifying,” Johnson claimed. “We have been functioning with legislation enforcement companies and corporations to guarantee they have the clarity to do their employment.”

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs despatched a letter to its users in July that said legislative action would be the greatest way to tackle “unintended consequences” of the new legal guidelines, but also said an viewpoint from the attorney general’s place of work would be handy.

“What an officer is allowed to do when on scene is now considerably various, but we see practically nothing that prohibits or in any other case limits the ability for an officer to respond to any connect with for services,” wrote Steve Strachan, the association’s executive director.

Strachan also warned agencies that adopting a plan of not-responding to specific calls could operate afoul of the community duty doctrine.

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