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Washington state Senate passes police arbitration bill

The measure would create a roster of nine to 18 arbitrators to hear officers' discipline appeals.
Credit: AP Photo/Rachel La Corte
FILE - The Washington Capitol building is seen on the last day of the 60-day legislative session, Thursday, March 12, 2020, in Olympia, Wash.

OLYMPIA, Wash — The Washington state Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill to create a panel of arbitrators to review police discipline decisions.

The measure is part of an ambitious package of police reform legislation that lawmakers are considering following Black Lives Matter protests that erupted last year.

Substitute Senate Bill 5055 was approved by a 41-8 vote Thursday. It would create a roster of nine to 18 arbitrators to hear officers' discipline appeals.

Critics have long argued that because departments and officers typically must agree on an arbitrator, arbitrators sometimes side with the officers to show they can be “fair.”

Under the bill, arbitrators from the roster would be assigned in alphabetical order rather than agreed upon by the officers and departments.