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Washington lawmakers OK proposal easing decertification of law enforcement officers

Final approval of the bill came a day after an ex-Minneapolis officer was convicted of murdering George Floyd. It heads to the governor's desk for his signature.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — A measure described as the teeth of the Washington state Legislature's ambitious police accountability agenda is headed to Gov. Jay Inslee's desk.

The Senate gave final approval Wednesday to Senate Bill 5051 which makes it easier to decertify police for bad acts, a day after an ex-Minneapolis officer was convicted of murdering George Floyd.

The bill requires departments to conduct broader background checks for officers before hiring them — including checking with previous departments for any discipline history or misconduct investigations.

It also expands civilian representation on the Criminal Justice Training Commission and requires the commission to maintain a publicly searchable database of officers, what agency they work for, what conduct has been investigated and the disposition.

Several police accountability and overhaul proposals have been considered in the legislature this session, following worldwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice sparked by Floyd's death while in the custody of ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

Other Washington state police overhaul proposals include:

  • Senate Bill 5066, which would require a peace officer to intervene if they observe another peace officer using excessive force. That bill also is heading to Inslee's desk.
  • House Bill 1054, which would enact overarching police tactic reforms statewide. It would ban chokeholds, no-knock warrants, and also limit law enforcement's use of tear gas and military-style equipment, as well as place limits on when officers can shoot at a moving vehicle during a pursuit.

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