A Message from Chief Jolley:
As Police Chief, I want to keep each of you aware of the service and public safety impacts present within our community. Earlier this year, the Washington State Legislature enacted several pieces of legislation which will affect how we deliver law enforcement services moving forward. Beginning Sunday, July 25, 2021, you may observe some changes in our policing efforts.
Vehicle Pursuits: A result of House Bill 1054, vehicular pursuits are no longer permitted, unless the following factors are met:
1. Probable cause exists for a violent offense or sex offense as defined in RCW 9.94.A.030 or escape as defined in RCW 9A.76; or reasonable suspicion exists for DUI under RCW 46.61.502,
2. The pursuit must be necessary for identifying or apprehending the person, and
3. The suspect poses an imminent threat to safety, and the risk of failing to apprehend or identify is greater than the safety risks of the pursuit under the circumstances.
Amongst other crimes, state law now prohibits vehicular pursuits for Misdemeanor Assault (DV or not), Residential Burglary, Theft of a Firearm, Assault in the 3rd Degree, Hate Crimes, and Assault of a Child in the 3rd Degree. Monroe Police Officers will no longer pursue for property crimes, as well as misdemeanor offenses up to and including some domestic violence crimes. Officers will pursue only under heightened legal thresholds for violent crimes like Robbery, Drive by Shooting, or Vehicular Assault.
Whether or not a suspect flees from our officers, we remain committed to identifying, arresting, and holding those accountable who commit crime within our community. While arrest is made more efficient when a crime is in progress or has just occurred in the presence of our officers, know that we will investigate criminal activity, regardless of whether the suspect(s) got away. We will continue to file cases into municipal and superior court where arrest is reasonable and appropriate.
Chokeholds, Tear Gas and No-Knock Warrants: Chokeholds, the use of tear gas and no-knock warrants are strictly prohibited with very limited exception. This legislative action will require minimal change with our pre-existing policy and standard.
Use of Force: House Bill 1310 implements more restrictive use of force guidelines for law enforcement officers. In the context of our policy, “use of force” means the application of physical techniques or tactics to another person, in support of a legitimate law enforcement purpose. In 2020, this amounted to force being used in 0.17% of our calls for service.
Under House Bill 1310, law enforcement officers are now required to have probable cause before using force. Pre-existing standards and policy allowed force when an officer possessed reasonable suspicion. This legislative change will vastly affect our service to the public, perhaps most visible with behavioral health contacts or when officers are engaged in community caretaking functions with individuals in crisis. Absent a crime, our officers possess no legal authority to escort, remove, physically assist, or otherwise use force with individuals in crisis, unless there is imminent threat of bodily injury.
As many of you know, the City of Monroe employs a part-time Social Worker, along with a Community Outreach Officer. Their role includes partnering with our community service providers, aiding vulnerable members of our community who possess addiction and/or behavioral health issues. By nature of their work, this team participates in a statewide alliance of co-responders, consisting of behavioral health professionals, police officers and firefighters performing like-minded work. This group, the Co-Responder Outreach Alliance (CROA), has expressed their concern with House Bill 1310, specifically being the legislation omitting provisions about involuntary detention. As law enforcement, we are left without guidance about appropriate uses of force when responding to individuals who are under the influence of drugs, who may be suicidal, or who otherwise are experiencing a behavioral health crisis. In our previous responses to incidents like these, our force applications would be as innocuous as giving someone an arm escort and/or guiding an individual to a stretcher. These actions are now prohibited. Using a minimal amount of force has prevented further escalation and allowed an individual to be evaluated and treated, thereby preventing them from hurting themselves or others. Under the new law, these force actions are now prohibited. In practice, and absent any criminal elements, Monroe Police Officers are left to merely suggest and encourage individuals to seek help voluntarily.
House Bill 1310 also requires law enforcement officers to use de-escalation practices. At the Monroe Police Department, these standards are already written into policy and are routinely used by our police officers in their call responses. We employ two Patrol Tactics Instructors, who, along with a group of other county-wide trainers, are responsible for training Snohomish County Law Enforcement personnel using best practice curriculum on de-escalation patrol tactics.
While the methods in which law enforcement officers perform their work are changing, please know that the men and women of the Monroe Police Department demonstrate their commitment to lawful, constitutional policing, on a daily basis. We remain committed to providing the highest level of service to everyone in our community, aligning our actions with both standard and law. We consider it an honor to serve this community, and we are thankful for your support.
Chief of Police