Rep. Mike Hope
As the 2012 Legislative Session began, Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, was one of the first lawmakers to propose innovative legislation. Rep. Hope introduced several bills that would reform police procedures.
“It took a lot of discussions with stakeholders to get legislation that everyone felt would address several publicized image problems pertaining to law enforcement. The most important aspect of these bills is that they start the discussion. Now legislators can ask: what can be improved, how do we go about that, and how do we ensure Washington law enforcement policy doesn’t become federally regulated." said Hope.
Rep. Hope has two bills that address the Department of Justice's (DOJ) investigation into SPD's use of force. One of the bills would establish a bi-partisan task force to review DOJ methodologies regarding use of force by Seattle police.
“Recommendations adopted by Seattle would have a statewide impact. We need a task force that can examine the data used in the DOJ report without prejudice. I personally believe that the Seattle officials are too close to the issue; however, the DOJ is too far removed. After weeks of discussion, this bill is supported by the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs and the Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs.
Hope’s second bill addressing the DOJ keeps local or state law enforcement from instituting recommendations that are the jurisdiction of the congress as stated in the Tenth Amendment.
At the end of the day police officers are public servants and should be subordinate to elected officials chosen by the people. These bills are about taking law enforcement decisions away from bureaucrats and letting the public have a voice,” said Hope.
Additional bills in the reform package address an aspect of law enforcement that is already standard policy for many police departments. However, in light of recent events, Hope feels making these policies into law is necessary.
“Police officers are a very professional group of people and need to have high standards. Recent events may have been prevented if there had been laws in place that required agencies to take action. As a state legislator and police officer, I feel this legislation regarding drug use and testing is crucial to public safety,” said Hope.
With House Bills 2627 and 2628 the legislature will ensure that police and fire departments suspend employees who are involved in the use of illegal drugs; and require random drug testing of public safety personnel.