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Families Impacted by Police Shootings Praise WA Reforms

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The families of people killed in police shootings have led the charge on reforms in Washington state. (Dimo Fedortchenko/Flickr)
The families of people killed in police shootings have led the charge on reforms in Washington state. (Dimo Fedortchenko/Flickr)
 By Eric Tegethoff - Producer, Contact
April 28, 2021

OLYMPIA, Wash. - Police reform has been a major theme of the Washington legislative session this year. Lawmakers passed bills that ban certain police tactics such as chokeholds, adopt a de-escalation standard that makes deadly force a last resort, and make it easier to decertify officers for misconduct.

The Washington Coalition for Police Accountability is made up of families who have been affected by police shootings. Fred Thomas, whose son was killed by police in 2013, said this session has been historic.

"As a coalition," he said, "we are just elated that so many of them have actually made it through the process without being changed too much."

Many police groups supported or remained neutral on the reform bills. Only the decertification bill raised major concerns.

The father of Trishandra Pickup's four children was killed by a police officer in 2019. She's raised concerns about the investigation into the killing. This session, lawmakers passed a measure creating an independent office to investigate police killings of civilians. Pickup said she hopes these types of reforms can save lives.

"Police are human beings. They deserve respect any human being would deserve," she said. "But the people they kill are also human beings."

Thomas said one of the bills also ensures that more citizens are involved in oversight. It creates five positions for community members on the Criminal Justice Training Commission. He said the public's involvement in holding law enforcement accountable is important going forward.

"There are going to be departments who just are not going to follow the new rules if nobody is watching them and call them out on it," he said. "So, it's time for the public to actually watch and demand that things are done correctly."

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