As the State Legislature approaches its adjournment Sunday, a slew of bills are being modified, changed, and tweaked to allow them to be passed.

One of them is a police reform bill that would have originally banned the use of tear gas by law enforcement on crowds.

The bill, which eliminates certain chokeholds etc, got stuck on the subject of tear gas. Some Democratic legislators claimed during the CHOP Riots in Seattle last year, and other demonstrations, police 'over-used' the gas on the protestors.

However, several legislators opposed the idea, including Democratic Senator Steve Hobbs who is also an officer in the Washington National Guard. They had first-hand knowledge of how the protestors behaved in and around Seattle, and why gas was used.

In the end a compromise has been struck. Tear gas can still be utilized, but local on-site officials will now have to get approval from the "highest-ranking" area official available.

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For example, if a County Sheriff is dealing with rioters, it would the county executive. For a local police chief, it would be the highest ranking official within the city limits, probably the Mayor.

As for the state, if the State Patrol were to need it, permission would have to come from the Governor. It's the highest-ranking official for that jurisdiction.

Supporters of the bill say it will go a long way towards de-escalating dangerous situations; while opponents say by the time a local on-site official is able to get permission to use the gas, the situation will have probably escalated out of control.

This is one of a number of bills pushed by Democratic legislators which further handcuff law enforcement agencies.

 

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