Here's the final report card for Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) during the just completed 2009 legislative session. The following are agenda items that were our highest priorities:
Tasers in Schools: SB-5263 was enacted. Stun guns or portable devices used to provide electric shock, charge or impulse are added to the list of items that are deemed unlawful for students and other non-law enforcement/security to carry onto or possess on school premises. School security officers who are not commissioned law enforcement officers may not possess a stun gun unless they have successfully completed training.
Jail Medication Management: SB-5252 was enacted. The board of pharmacy is prohibited from regulating or establishing standards for a jail that does not operate a pharmacy or correctional pharmacy. A jail is authorized to provide for the delivery and administration of medications and medication assistance for inmates by trained, non-licensed/non-health care personnel under certain conditions.
Boating Safety: No-Cost Operating Budget Proviso was enacted. The Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee, within its allocated resources, is directed to conduct a review of the state's recreational boating programs and report to the legislature by Oct. 31, 2010. The study is to include an examination of the revenue sources and expenditures for state boating programs, methods of administrating state recreational boating programs, including the roles of both state and local government entities, and approaches other states have taken to funding and administering recreational boating programs.
Law Enforcement Access to Drivers License Photos: SB-5262 was enacted. Amends RCW 46.20.118 to authorize the Department of Licensing to provide law enforcement with driver's license photos for the purpose of identity verification when law enforcement is legally permitted to verify identity. This will enable Department of Licensing to begin preparing for an automated photo exchange process for law enforcement.
SONAR: SB-5261 was enacted. WASPC's SONAR (Sex Offender Notification and Registration) system is codified and WASPC and local governments and their employees are provided liability protection for release of information under the program. The new program contains a myriad of improvements to the web-based sex offender information system, enables citizens to register for e-mail alerts when a sex offender is moving into their neighborhood and allows for offender updates in "real time."
Mapping Community and Technical Colleges: $500,000 Capital Budget Proviso was enacted. The capital budget allocates funding to continue mapping several of the community and technical colleges with $546,000 as the planned allocation for future biennia to complete the project.
Sex Offender Address Verification: $10 million Operating Budget Proviso was enacted. Funding for local law enforcement to continue to conduct in-person address verifications of all registered sex offenders is provided in full. This was the primary recommendation from the Governor's sex offender taskforce created in 2007. The funding also supports increased DNA collection and prosecution for failure to register cases.
Washington Auto Theft Prevention Authority: $5.844 million Operating Budget Proviso was enacted. Reduced funding is provided to the authority, which receives a $10 surcharge per traffic infraction.
Other legislation of interest was:
911: Removes state and county enhanced 911 emergency communications service excise tax provisions. Did Not Pass
Violent Injury Reporting: Health care provider must report gunshot or stab wounds to law enforcement as soon as reasonably possible if a patient is unconscious or unable to make such a report. (SB-5056) Enacted
Supervision Reductions: Reductions are made to the categories of offenders supervised by the Department of Corrections (DOC). DOC to only supervise offenders who are classified at a high risk to re-offend by Washington State Institute for Public Policy tool, as well as sex offenders; DMIOs, ISRBs, DOSAs, SSOSAs, FTOWs and offenders under the Interstate Compact; misdemeanants who have been sentenced to probation by a superior court; misdemeanant sex offenders; and fourth degree assaults or violators of domestic violence court orders. DOC may arrest misdemeanants for violations who are under DOC supervision. Community custody times are fixed and reduced by statute according to the offense. DOC must continue to supervise offenders convicted of a serious violent offense regardless of their risk assessment (i.e. whether high or low risk on the new assessment tool). (SB-5288/SB 6162) Enacted
Theft Limits: Raises the minimum thresholds for certain theft and property crimes. (SB 6167) Enacted
Felony Deportation: Provides for deportation of illegal aliens released from DOC. (SB 6183/HB 2188) Did Not Pass
Drug Overdose: A person would not be prosecuted under the Uniform Controlled Substances Act if he believes he is witnessing drug-related overdose and seeks medical attention for other person; or the person experiences a drug-related overdose and receives medical assistance for the overdose. (HB 1615/HB 1796/SB 5516) Did Not Pass
The most controversial issue for us was SB-5288, Supervision Reductions. This was pure and simple a cost cutting exercise. We had the choice to support a reduction of sentences or a reduction of supervision once the time was served. We chose the later. Neither choice was in the interest of enhancing public safety, but more to best limit damages. We tried to make the best of a bad situation.
Our Sheriff's Office is proud to have had lead roles in prohibiting tasers in schools and jail medication management. We will stay involved and constantly remind legislators in Olympia that the tax dollars they channel into statewide programs were all generated locally.
We are very appreciative of the priority assigned to law enforcement locally by the board of county commissioners, Governor Gregoire and our Washington state legislature.