WA Supreme Court Strikes Down Most Limits on Use of Tear Gas
The Washington State Supreme Court has struck down most of a 2021 legislative law that prohibited many uses of tear gas by county Sheriffs'.
Non-Charter counties can now use the gas again
The 2021 legislative law required Sherrifs' in most counties to get permission from county commissioners before deploying tear gas in appropriate situations, such as trying to put down or control a riot.
Non-charter counties make up 32 of the state's 39 counties. These counties have anywhere from three to five commissioners. The other 7 counties use what is called home charter rules.
Non-charter counties include King, Snohomish, Whatcom, Pierce, San Juan, Clallam, and Clark. For example, King County has a Council, similar to a city council, instead of county commissioners. This court ruling does not apply to them.
The court ruled the Sheriff could use the gas without needing permission. The President of the Washington State Sheriffs' Association, Sheriff Clay Myers (Kittitas County) said:
"Our view is the requirement of RCW 10.116,030 (3) unconstitutionally removed an authority that is part of the statutory responsibilities of Sheriffs, and this decision underlines that responsibility."
Democratic legislators pushed through the tear gas bill following the limited use of the gas in the early stages of riots and criminal activity that led up to the CHOP occupation of the Capitol Hill District of Seattle in 2020.
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