“This is a proactive move to increase the safety of our officers, promote participation from the community and preserve the trust between law enforcement and the public.”
Washington State Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber (7th District)
OLYMPIA – A package of bills introduced today in Olympia would streamline and improve law enforcement training, increase the number of training classes available for new recruits, and provide more opportunities for law enforcement in underserved areas.
Rep. Jacquelin Maycumber, R-Republic, and prime-sponsor of the measures, said the legislation is a good step forward in reestablishing a sense of security for many families and communities across the state.
“Whether you live in an urban city experiencing a crisis in homelessness, or a rural area that has difficulty training and retaining law enforcement officers, many individuals, families and communities feel less safe than just a few years ago,” said Maycumber. “But this is our state; our community; our home. We should expect more. We need to enforce existing laws on the books, give our officers the tools and training they need to be successful, and support them as they put their lives on the line for us every day.”
House Bill 2560 would require the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) to provide at least 15 basic law enforcement academy trainings per fiscal year beginning in 2021, and 19 per year beginning in 2024. While more trainings could be offered, the bill sets a minimum that can only be lowered if enrollment is insufficient to fill the classes.
“Our state has the lowest number of law enforcement per capita in the nation,” said Maycumber, who previously served as a commissioned law enforcement officer in Colorado. “With the number of training classes varying each year, it’s difficult to keep up with demand as rural and urban law enforcement agencies compete for those spots. It can be a six-month wait to get into training and then another six months after that before an officer is on patrol. That’s too long. This bill would provide some certainty moving forward, increase the number of officers receiving training, and reduce wait times between academy trainings.”
House Bill 2538 would further increase law enforcement training opportunities by creating a pilot program for training in eastern Washington. As the bill states:
“After an agency hires an officer, he or she waits many months for an opening at the academy. Even though a new hire cannot be deployed in the field, agencies must pay his or her salary to prevent him or her from seeking employment elsewhere…Agencies in eastern Washington have been especially impacted because of the logistical and financial burden of sending new hires across the state to participate in the basic law enforcement academy.”
“Having a basic training academy in eastern Washington just makes sense,” said Maycumber. “We have to send our trainees to western Washington and pay for travel, lodging and food, and they are away from their families and the communities in which they’ll serve. Having training in eastern Washington would allow trainees to interact with their sponsoring agencies more, receive more specified training to meet their local needs, and save money for all involved.”
Maycumber’s bill stipulates that training at the academy must use local trainers and law enforcement facilities where appropriate, and must cost less than current training done in western Washington.
Another bill, House Bill 2537, would establish a law enforcement training standards and education board.
“With some of the more recent and high-profile law enforcement issues we’re seeing with body cams, use of deadly force, dealing with the homeless and those with mental health issues, we need to resurrect an official training and standards board,” said Maycumber. “This is a proactive move to increase the safety of our officers, promote participation from the community and preserve the trust between law enforcement and the public.”
Maycumber’s final piece in her law enforcement package is House Bill 2539. This legislation would create a law enforcement outreach program specifically focused on rebuilding trust with diverse communities.
“This bill creates a grant program that will allow local agencies to be innovative as they reach out into the communities they serve to build trust, establish relationships, and encourage – and potentially recruit – the next generation of law enforcement officers,” said Maycumber. “We have isolated communities that don’t see a future or career in law enforcement. But we need a diverse police force that can reach across all socio-economic lines to both build trust and to deliver services effectively and efficiently.”
Maycumber, who serves in a leadership position as the minority floor leader, said she expects several, if not all, of her bills to receive public hearings.
“I have broad bipartisan support for these bills,” said Maycumber. “Feeling safe in your own home shouldn’t be a partisan issue. I think there are enough components in these proposals to find common ground across the aisle and I look forward to working these through the legislative process and on to the governor’s desk.”
The 60-day 2020 legislative session began Monday, Jan. 13.