Legal Memo States Reform Law Won’t Protect against Police Response | Washington Information

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) — A lawful memo from the Washington Attorney General’s business says that the state’s new police use-of-power law does not avert officers from responding to non-felony calls like mental overall health and other group welfare phone calls.

A number of Washington law enforcement businesses had signaled their intent to quit responding to calls for provider involving non-prison pursuits due to the fact of a measure that instructs officers to, among the other issues, exhaust de-escalation ways and “(depart) the spot if there is no danger of imminent harm and no crime has been dedicated.” The monthly bill was one particular of several police reform payments that the Legislature passed this 12 months, and which took effect July 25.

Northwest Information Network reported Thursday that in the memo to state lawmakers this week, Deputy Solicitor Common Alicia Younger and Assistant Attorney Basic Shelley Williams wrote that the legislation “neither alters nor boundaries (the) authority” of law enforcement to respond to non-felony calls for guidance.

The attorneys explained that Washington courts and regulation figure out anything named the “community caretaking doctrine” and cited a 2019 Washington Supreme Court docket opinion that called police officers “jacks of all trades” who “frequently engage in community caretaking features that are unrelated to the detection and investigation of criminal offense.”

The memo is not thought of a official authorized impression from the attorney general’s workplace, but was just a “carefully deemed lawful opinion” of the authors.

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Rep. Jesse Johnson, the vice chair of the General public Protection committee and the key sponsor of the evaluate in question, stated he ideas to request a official view from the lawyer general’s business office, which could consider several months.

“We hope this strong steerage from the Lawyer General’s Office environment is clarifying,” Johnson mentioned. “We have been doing the job with legislation enforcement agencies and organizations to guarantee they have the clarity to do their jobs.”

The Washington Affiliation of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs despatched a letter to its members in July that explained legislative action would be the very best way to handle “unintended consequences” of the new legislation, but also reported an opinion from the legal professional general’s business office would be valuable.

“What an officer is authorized to do even though on scene is now substantially unique, but we see absolutely nothing that prohibits or otherwise limitations the means for an officer to react to any get in touch with for support,” wrote Steve Strachan, the association’s government director.

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

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