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Why one Republican supported Washington bill restricting police tactics

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Recently, the Washington state Senate approved a measure that restricts certain police tactics like chokeholds and neck restraints, as well as certain gear. One of the tools that would be banned if this bill ends up getting passed and approved by the House as is would be tear gas.

The bill states police can only use it in response to riots in jails or prisons or when dealing with a barricaded subject or a hostage situation. State Senator Keith Wagoner (R-Sedro Wooley) is the one Republican who joined Democrats in supporting the bill, and he joined the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH to discuss why.

“I don’t really feel like I joined with the Democrats, and there is a lot to dislike about this bill, you can be sure that I’m aware of that, … and I voted for every amendment that would have made the bill better. I was able to hang my amendment, which preserved millions of dollars of equipment that’s used across the state in the form of armored vehicles for police use,” he said.

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“So because I could get some good out of it for our police departments, I put my vote on that bill,” he continued. “I negotiated with the chair in good faith and I knew that the bill would pass.”

As Wagoner pointed out, the police tactics bill would have passed regardless of his vote, and he wanted to at least impact it a little as a result.

“I have an amendment that I negotiated, and I was sure that the bill would pass with or without my vote,” he said. “I wanted to do some good by our police force. I was the Fraternal Order of Police legislator of the year last session — I support the police 100%.”

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“Sometimes we can’t stop the bus from going off the cliff,” he added. “But we can save one person who’s on the bus, and that’s what I think I did with my vote.”

Jason argued: “Not being able to use tear gas during a riot means you are going to send police officers into a riot, putting their lives on the line, rather than allowing them to use a non-lethal tool. I understand that your support of the amendment is an important one, … but how is it worth the support of a bill when at the end of the day, if it passes, it will hurt police officers physically?”

“I agree 100%,” Wagoner responded. “I did vote for it. A bill that was going to pass anyway. I also voted for every amendment to improve that bill. I could vote no because I don’t like the bill, and the bill passes anyway and there’s no benefit to our police department or our people.”

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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