State police use-of-force incidents database bill passes Legislature

Wa State Legislature

OLYMPIA, Wash. — With an overwhelming bipartisan 46-2 vote, the state Legislature today took a final vote on a bill Attorney General Bob Ferguson requested to create a database of police use-of-force incidents, giving the public access to the data.

The bill requires agencies to collect and report key data regarding the incident, including the demographic characteristics of the officers and members of the public. The database will contain clear, comprehensive and contextual information to help the public better visualize use-of-force interactions between law enforcement and the public.

The centralized, online and publicly accessible database will assist law enforcement, academics and policymakers.

The bill passed the Senate in March on a 46-2 vote. It passed the House on April 6 on a 97-1 vote, but with amendments. The Senate’s vote today confirmed those amendments and the measure is now on its way to Gov. Jay Inslee for his signature.

I appreciate the dedication of the broad coalition who helped get this bill through the legislature,” Ferguson said. “Legislators on both sides of the aisle collaborated with law enforcement and community groups to create this necessary legislation. This common sense, bipartisan reform is long overdue.”

Currently, there is no central repository for use-of-force data in the state.

“Washington State has no single source where the public can get information about uses of force, let alone other types of interactions between community and law enforcement,” said Sen. T’wina Nobles (D-Fircrest) who sponsored the bill. “Specifically, communities of color face disproportionately negative outcomes from interactions with law enforcement; however, without data, it is impossible to comprehensively track and address. The data captured by Senate Bill 5259 will enable better allocation of resources, and more effective assessment of current police reform strategies. What’s more, by collecting and reporting such data, we have a critical opportunity to build community trust through transparency.”

If signed into law the bill would require law enforcement agencies to report data resulting from an officer’s use of force against a member of the public; a Washington state institution of higher education to receive use of force data; an easily searchable, public facing website to display data; and an objective summary report that will go to the Legislature on a semi-annual basis.