PRESS RELEASE - July 27, 2021
The role of law enforcement in our community is ever changing to meet the public’s needs and expectations. Washington State is leading the nation with new policing laws which went into effect on July 25, 2021. Policing is complex and unlike many countries, in The United States, the way law enforcement police is largely determined at a state level. Also, unlike many countries, in The United States, police officers enforce laws in a heavily armed country making their jobs dangerous.
College Place police officers have traditionally responded to non-criminal situations, such as mental health crises, medical service calls, child welfare checks, and the like, often providing services otherwise lacking in our community. The new laws, while I believe intended to make our communities safer for the public and for law enforcement officers, will have various unintended consequences. Such as reducing police response to non-criminal matters, overwhelming our regions already strained community health systems, potentially resulting in serious injury or death. Furthermore, by essentially restricting our law enforcement officers from responding to calls based on reasonable suspicion (which are reasonable and articulated facts and circumstances) has now made their ability to investigate crimes more difficult, resulting in dangerous criminals walking away from their crimes.
The officers in our community have shown over and over their desire and skill to help those in need, regardless of whether a crime has been committed. I share in their frustration with the new laws, and recognize their selflessness and desire to serve the community which drives that frustration. Ultimately, I have no doubt our community will continue to support our law enforcement officers, and they will continue to serve our community with respect and understanding.
Norma L. Hernández