Julie Humphreys, Public Safety Communication Manager, 509.625.5868
Thursday, April 22, 2021 at 2:39 p.m.
Spokane Police Department’s Duty to Intercede policy already includes most portions of proposed Senate Bill 5066
A bill requiring law enforcement officers to intervene when witnessing another officer using excessive force has passed the Legislature and is now before Washington Governor Jay Inslee for his signature. Senate Bill 5066 contains many provisions currently within SPD’s policy, which has been in place and continually reviewed and updated since 2015.
The bill calls for officers witnessing excessive use of force (UOF) to step in and intervene in the UOF. SPD policy states;
“Any officer present and observing another officer using force they know or have reason to know is clearly beyond what is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a safe position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force.”
The bill also calls for any officers to report the wrongdoing to their supervisor. SPD policy states;
“The officer shall promptly report these observations and the efforts made to intervene to a supervisor.”
Additionally, the bill calls for officers to render aid at the earliest safe opportunity to anyone injured by UOF. SPD policy states;
“When the scene is secure and it is safe to do so, officers should attempt to render medical first aid until medical response has arrived.”
There are two new provisions in the bill. One states law enforcement agency members shall not discipline or retaliate against an officer for intervening. The other calls for law enforcement agencies to notify the state Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) of any disciplinary decision resulting from an officer’s failure to intervene or report wrongdoing.
SPD conducts regular ethical intervention and duty to intervene training for officers and has provided such for several years.
SPD has actively worked toward police reform measures for more than a decade and continues to do so. Notably, SPD completed 26 recommendations by a citizen UOF Commission in 2013 and in 2014, SPD invited the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) to a collaborative reform process and completed all 38 SPD specific DOJ recommendations by 2017. In 2019 the Spokane Police Department updated its Use of Force policy to include a De-escalation policy and an update to corresponding training. SPD is committed to accomplishing our mission with respect and a minimal reliance on use of force by using rapport-building communication, crisis intervention, and de-escalation tactics before resorting to force, when circumstances permit.