Walla Walla Police Department vehicle

Walla Walla Police Department vehicle

The Washington state Senate approved a bill Tuesday that would set standards for police tactics and equipment statewide, in part banning chokeholds, neck restraints, and no-knock warrants.

The Senate amended the bill, so it will now go back to the House of Representatives so it can consider the amendments.

House Bill 1054 would set limitations on military equipment, use of tear gas, and vehicular pursuits. It’s one of the major pieces of legislation up for consideration this session with roots in last year’s resounding calls for racial justice and police reform.

“The point of this legislation is to start placing appropriate limits on tactics and equipment used by police that are putting Black lives and the lives of all Washingtonians at risk,” Sakara Remmu of the Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance said in testimony last month.

The measure has been altered at several points since it was initially introduced. Senators debated amendments and final passage of the bill for about two hours Tuesday.

In its current form, the bill:

  • Bans law enforcement officers from using chokeholds and neck restraints.
  • Bans no-knock warrants.
  • Limits the use of tear gas, in part specifying it can’t be used unless necessary to alleviate the risk of serious harm from a riot inside a correctional, jail, or detention facility; a barricaded subject; or a hostage situation.
  • Bans agencies from acquiring some military equipment and lays out what equipment is banned.
  • Limits when officers can engage in vehicular pursuits and fire at moving vehicles.
  • Requires officers to display their name or other identifiable information.
  • Requires a work group to develop a model policy for training and using police dogs.

Elements of the bill continued to draw criticism from law enforcement groups at a public hearing last month. The Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, for example, objected to the absolute ban on neck restraints. The Washington Association of Sheriffs & Police Chiefs also objected to the total ban on neck restraints and chokeholds and to language related to vehicular pursuits. However, the Washington Fraternal Order of Police supports the bill.

“The days of saying no and that we ask people to trust us and listen to us because we’re the professionals are gone,” Marco Monteblanco with the Fraternal Order of Police said in a hearing last month. “I also recognize the hesitancy from our stakeholder partners with specific changes. Throughout the history there has been changes, there’s been evolutions within policing, and this is the same thing today.”

Senators on Tuesday approved a floor amendment from Sen. Keith Wagoner, R-Sedro Woolley, that would allow law enforcement agencies to keep acquiring and using mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles, which would’ve previously been banned under the bill.

The latest version also includes several changes to the section on vehicular pursuits. Additional floor amendments aimed at that same section of the bill were rejected Tuesday.

The amended bill ultimately passed out of the Senate on a 27-22 vote.

The vote was largely along party lines, with Democrats in support and Republicans in opposition. However, a few Democrats voted against the bill: Sen. Steve Hobbs of Lake Stevens, Sen. Kevin Van De Wege of Sequim, and Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch.