by Jac Archer, PJALS Organizer

In May this year, Governor Inslee signed eleven police accountability bills into law. Instead of clearly embracing and implementing these new policies, leaders within the Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office stirred up public fear and uncertainty through press releases and social media claiming that these new laws made it impossible for them to effectively serve and protect the community. The storm of confusion and misinformation from disgruntled law enforcement persisted even after the Attorney General’s office issued informal opinions, clarifying the most publicly contested language. The community decided to speak up.

On August 5, PJALS, as a leading representative of the Smart Justice Spokane coalition, joined with SCAR and members of the Platform for Change Coalition to put some of the misinformation to rest. Together we held a press conference and launched an online action urging the AG to continue clarifying the bill language, and to call upon the AG and Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) to oversee the implementation of these laws by the Spokane Police Department and Spokane County Sheriff’s Office.

Since August, PJALS has continued to support the ongoing efforts of SCAR and other partner organizations to shed light on the police accountability laws, what they mean, and how they can benefit our community. Together we are holding our police accountable to the laws they have sworn to uphold.

New challenges have arisen since the police accountability action was launched this August. Opponents of this necessary legislation are putting pressure on lawmakers to weaken the new laws, including the standards police must meet before using force on members of the public. And many people are still under-informed or misinformed about the ways police reforms can make our communities safer for everyone.

We hope you’ll join us as we continue asking the AG and CJTC to oversee the implementation of police accountability laws in Spokane. And we invite you to raise your voice with us as we advance our fight for accountable, community-led public safety.