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DOC Officer: WA Police Reforms Good for Corrections Employees, Too

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Monday, June 14, 2021   

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington state's police reform measures are receiving praise, including from Department of Corrections employees.

It has been a little over a year since the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, and Washington lawmakers responded this session with 12 new laws that reshape policing in the state.

Don Malo, community corrections officer at the Department of Corrections in Wenatchee, said the measures have devoted resources to law enforcement to ensure these changes happen appropriately.

"The reactions have been positive," Malo reported. "I think we have both accountability and reform. And not only that, but we also protect the rights of law enforcement and corrections officers at the same time."

Among the laws passed is a measure that requires officers to use a "reasonable care" standard for use of force, so officers employ de-escalation tactics first.

Malo pointed out the Department of Corrections models its use-of-force standard after the police. He is a member of the Washington Federation of State Employees union.

Another measure bans chokeholds and restricts the use of tear gas. There will also be a statewide use-of-force database.

Malo contended this is important, noting officers who don't follow policies and laws make it harder for good law enforcement officers.

"We all want to go out and strive to do the best we possibly can every day, treat people with dignity and respect," Malo explained. "And we don't want that jeopardized by another officer that is not following policy and the law."

Malo added the measures give law enforcement better training, hiring processes and resources to serve the public safely.

"Our goal is to always have the best outcome for the community and the people serving the community and trying to build that relationship," Malo asserted. "And hopefully we will never have to have another incident such as George Floyd ever again."

Disclosure: Washington Federation of State Employees - AFSCME Council 28 contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy and Priorities, and Livable Wages/Working Families. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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