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Northwest Senator proposes national database to keep track of police misconduct

The latest on rallies happening in western Washington to protest the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

SEATTLE — Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley said he is working with Sen. Cory Booker (D-New Jersey), and Senator Kamala Harris, (D-California) on a major bill looking at many aspects of racism and police brutality and how to end it. He's focusing on one issue in particular: police brutality.

On Friday, he announced legislation called "The National Police Misconduct and Transparency in Hiring Act." He wants to make sure an officer fired for misconduct can't simply leave one department and be hired in another.

In addition, an officer involved in the death or serious injury of a civilian, a shooting, or other use of excessive force, would be entered into a national database.

"What we've found is if a horrific act is conducted, we often discover that individual did similar things in a previous police department before being let go. It's unacceptable," he said.

Merkley noted for every officer who commits a horrific act, there are hundreds of officers who are "absolutely wonderful," he said.

He said he's also working on getting other policing policy into federal law, including making use of chokeholds and other physical tactics that restrict oxygen or blood flow a civil rights violation.

He lists other issues he's working on to address racial injustice in this news release.

Friday, June 5 

Friday marked a week of demonstrations across Puget Sound over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody. 

A large crowd gathered in Seattle's Central District neighborhood on Friday for a teach-in and rally. 

Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins spoke with KING 5 about the ongoing protests over Floyd's death: "This is very real to, not just me, but to every African-American man." 

RELATED: Seattle black-owned businesses see surge in support

Other updates on June 5:

5 p.m. 

The Seattle Human Rights Commission announced the following requests to the Seattle Police Department regarding the city's response to ongoing rallies: 

  1. All officers found to be instigators against the public, in the recent protests that are responses to the murder of George Floyd, should be immediately put on suspension and investigations launched.
  2. The city requires officers to use a de-escalation approach in ALL interactions with the public.

4:30 p.m. 

Seattle police addressed the escalation of protests late Thursday into early Friday morning, which marks a full week of demonstrations across Puget Sound. 

The department reports two police officers were injured when protesters threw projectiles on Seattle's Capitol Hill. One officer needed hospitalization.

4 p.m. 

A large crowd is gathered for a "teach-in" and rally in Seattle's Central District. 

3:30 p.m. 

Seattle police will not use tear gas for the next 30 days while a coalition of agencies reviews the police department's crowd management plan.

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the policy during a news conference Thursday saying officers "do not need to be using tear gas at protests as a crowd management tool.”

“We need more dialogue between officers and protesters," Durkan said. "We need more communication on the front lines.”

RELATED: Seattle bans police use of tear gas for 30 days

During the temporary ban on the use of tear gas, Durkan said she would ask the city to work with several agencies, including the Office of Police Accountability, the Office of Inspector General, the Community Police Commission and the Seattle Police Department, to review and update the department's crowd management plan and give recommendations.

Durkan urged the review to better emphasize de-escalation and include input from community on the use of tear gas and flash bangs.

During this time, SWAT teams will still use tear gas under the chief's directive to protect life and end standoff situations, according to Seattle Police Chief Carmen Best.

The directive follows widespread criticism of the use of tear gas by police accountability groups and public health officials.

On Friday morning, the Seattle Community Police Commission released a statement saying all three of Seattle's police oversight agencies – the Community Police Commission, Office of Police Accountability, and Office of Inspector General – recommend SPD stop using tear gas to disperse large crowds. 

"SPD has no department-wide policies on the use of tear gas. Police officers should not be deploying use of force tools for which they do not have policies and training. That is not how our system of police accountability works, nor should it," read the agency's statement. 

Dr. Jeffrey Duchin of Public Health of Seattle and King County also voiced opposition to the use of tear gas because of its ability to increase the spread of COVID-19.

“Seattle & King Co opposes the use of tear gas and other respiratory irritants based on the potential to increase COVID-19 spread," Dr. Duchin said in a tweet Thursday night.

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