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WA Rep: Police tactics bill appeases ‘political group’ at expense of safety

Police officers attend an injured man detained during a protest after the Nov. 3 elections. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A new bill seeks to make many changes to police tactics and use of force in Washington state. Among other policies, the bill stipulates that cops can’t use tear gas to disperse riots, and cannot use neck restraints on a suspect.

State Rep. Brad Klippert (R-Kennewick), who is also an active police officer, joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss his concerns with the bill, beginning with the policy on neck restraints.

“So you call 911 because you’re having some type of disturbance with someone. I, as a law enforcement officer — which I work as in Benton County, just south of you — respond to your call, and I get there and somebody is choking you,” he describes as a potential scenario. “This says that I cannot use a lateral vascular neck restraint, which simply puts pressure on your carotid arteries to slow the blood flow to your brain so that I can gain control of you. I must now escalate to lethal force, rather than using a non-lethal force lateral vascular neck restraint.”

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“That’s going to affect public safety,” he said. “… If I can’t get you to comply with verbal commands and I go to some type of wrestling hold — maybe I try to grab your arms or something like that, and you’re stronger than I am — and I can’t overcome your physical force, I’m going to have to draw a weapon, a lethal weapon to stop you or stop that suspect from killing you. … It makes no sense whatsoever to take that non-lethal tool away from us.”

Regarding the use of tear gas to disperse a riot, Klippert says that also takes away a non-lethal tool, and by doing so, it is actually undermining the concerns over the police and their use of force.

“All they do (in the bill) is they reference the riots in Seattle and Portland, and my understanding — I’m doing the best of my ability — my understanding is that it’s offensive to them, and they don’t like it, and so they’re trying to prohibit it,” he said.

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“That’s one more non-lethal tool that we could use to disperse the crowd, and if you take that tool away from us, now we have to elevate to more lethal forms of force to disperse the crowd who could be in your neighborhood, who could be in these legislators’ neighborhood, keeping them from living their lives peacefully,” Klippert addd.

What does he ultimately think the intent of the bill is?

“I think it’s being used to appease a certain political group of people who are very activated right now and represent a whole lot of votes,” he replied. “But they don’t represent the overall public safety that the citizens of Washington state want to be able to enjoy.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here

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