UW Police

New Laws

On Sunday, July 25 major police reforms went into effect. Here is a review of those laws and the UWPD response to each of the reforms.

 SB 5051  Oversight and accountability of police and corrections officers. 

Modifies the priorities and composition of the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) and expands the background check requirements for people applying to be peace officers, reserve officers or corrections officers.

The bill also expands on reasons why law enforcement officers or corrections officers may have their certifications revoked and requires employing agencies to report disciplinary matters to the CJTC.

Removes confidentiality of complaints, investigations and disciplinary actions for certified officers must be maintained on a publicly searchable database.

UWPD Response

  • UWPD contracts out police officer background checks to a state-law compliant third party. If necessary, UWPD will follow up with all police agencies a police officer candidate has worked for previously, both in-state and out of state.
  • UWPD has an Internal Affairs Bureau which is keenly aware of law and ethical issues that could trigger an officer decertification by the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. We work closely with the Training Commission’s certification process to make sure all officers are or remain in good standing.
  • UWPD maintains its responsibility to transparency by making sustained Internal Affairs complaints available to the public through a request to the UW Public Records and Open Meetings department. UWPD will contribute information to the statewide publicly searchable database once it is created.

HB 1054 – Establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by law enforcement officers. 

Prohibits law enforcement officers from using chokeholds and neck restraints and prevents law enforcement agencies from acquiring or using certain types of military equipment. The bill establishes restrictions on tear gas, car chases and firing at moving cars.

Prevents police officers from seeking and courts from issuing warrants granting an express exception to the “knock and announce” rule, which requires police to identify themselves, and wait for occupants to let them inside the residence.

Requires agencies to adopt policies ensuring uniformed law enforcement officers are reasonably identifiable and requires the CJTC to convene a work group to develop model policies on the use and training of canine officers.

UWPD Response

  • UWPD already prohibited chokeholds and the use of neck restraints prior to the passage of the bill.
  • UWPD does not possess any military equipment, however the new law also restricts law enforcement from using any .50 caliber ammunition. UWPD’s less lethal shotguns, capable of only shooting beanbag projectiles, is over the caliber limitation. UWPD’s less lethal shotguns have been placed out of service in our Armory as we seek a legislative clarification on the new law’s application to less lethal weapons.  We are working with the Office of the Attorney General in seeking clarification on the legislative intent.
  • UWPD restricts officers from engaging in police pursuits with a few rare exceptions and is in compliance with the new law. UWPD policy already prohibits officers from shooting at moving vehicles.
  • UWPD infrequently used “no knock” warrants and has not done so in the past 10 years.  Today, “no knock” are no longer issued by the courts and would no longer be available to UWPD.
  • UWPD officers already wear distinct uniforms that include badges and large, readable name plates in compliance with the new law.
  • UWPD has two canine officers. The dogs only sniff for incendiary devices.  They are not used to track people or used in any aggressive manner.  The work group is intended to regulate police canines that track and assist in the apprehension of suspects which does not apply to UWPD.

Senate Bill 5066Concerning Duty to Intervene.

Requires a peace officer to intervene if they observe another peace officer using excessive force.

UWPD Response

UWPD already has a policy requiring any officer that observes another peace officer using excessive to intervene and stop the excessive force.  The policy also requires that the incident be reported and investigated.

HB 1267 – Concerning investigation of potential criminal conduct arising from police use of force, including sustained in police custody, and other officer-involved incidents. 

Establishes the Office of Independent Investigations within the Office of the Governor for the purpose of investigating deadly force incidents involving law enforcement officers.

UWPD Response

UWPD’s Internal Affairs Division is already tasked with the investigation of potential criminal conduct arising from any police use of force.  Investigations are coordinated with the King County Office of the Prosecuting Attorney. The new law will establish similar cooperation with a new Office of Independent Investigations within the Office of the Governor for any deadly force incidents that involve UWPD officers.

With the passage of Washington State Initiative 940 in 2018 and Substitute HB1064, incidents where the use of deadly force by a peace officer results in death, substantial bodily harm, or great bodily harm, require an independent investigation. While the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission established rules and training for Independent Force Investigations Team (IFIT), UWPD and other police agencies began identifying civilian representatives as well as experienced investigators to comprise of the new team. UWPD is a member of the Eastside IFIT. The agencies involved in the Eastside investigative team include the Washington State Patrol, the King County Sheriff’s Office, Bellevue, Duvall, Kirkland, Clyde Hill, Issaquah, Lake Forest Park, Medina, Mercer Island, Redmond, Snoqualmie, North Bend and the University of Washington Police Department.

HB 1310 – Concerning permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers.

Establishes a civil standard for law enforcement officer use of force. Requires the attorney general to develop model policies on law enforcement’s use of force and de-escalation tactics and requires individual law enforcement agencies to adopt policies consistent with the model policies. Authorizes the use of tear gas when necessary to alleviate a present risk of serious harm posed by a riot.

UWPD Response

  • UWPD’s Use of Force policy already provides guidance for times when an officer finds it necessary to make an arrest, prevent an escape or protect against an imminent threat. UWPD officers are trained in de-escalation techniques and in using the least amount of force necessary to effect an arrest. UWPD officers recognize the bill’s intent, requiring police to de-escalate, rather than escalate, and minimize use of force, particularly deadly force. We will watch additional interpretation of this bill and make policy and training adjustments as necessary.