New Washington State Law mandates that each law enforcement agency in the state must have an officer-involved domestic violence policy

 

..." Her death left us with sobering and agonizing questions: How could this have happened? And what can we do to prevent it from ever happening again?"... (Then-Governor, Gary Locke)

The State of Washington passed legislation

that mandated that every law enforcement agency in the state must have an officer-involved domestic violence policy for their officers and employees, specifying the exact protocol to follow if an officer is involved in a domestic incident or allegation.

"...By June 1, 2005, every agency shall adopt and implement a written  policy on domestic violence committed or allegedly committed by sworn  employees of the agency..."

 

See text of Senate Bill 6161

 

 

Gov. Gary Locke Signs Bills Strengthening Domestic Violence Policies

Office of Governor Gary Locke

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE - March 15, 2004

Contact:  Governor's Communications Office, 360-902-4136

Alt Contact:  Amy Blondin, Senate Democratic Caucus, 360-786-7741;

OLYMPIA - March 15, 2004 - Flanked by numerous legislators and domestic violence support groups, Gov. Gary Locke today signed several public safety bills into law that will help prevent domestic violence and protect victims when it occurs.

Among the legislation Locke signed was Senate Bill 6161, which requires every police department and sheriff's department in the state to adopt and enforce policies to deal with domestic violence involving their officers.

The bill charges the Washington State Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs with developing a state model policy by Dec. 1 that addresses staff training, reporting requirements and procedures for investigating officer-involved domestic violence. Every law enforcement agency in the state must adopt its own policy by June 1, 2005.

Tacoma police Chief David Brame's fatal shooting of his wife and subsequent suicide in April 2003 prompted the legislation.

"We are here to mark an important victory for domestic violence victims of our state," Locke said. "Let us do all we can to make sure that no member of a law enforcement family will ever again endure what happened to Crystal Brame."

Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, and Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, were the prime sponsors.

"Law enforcement agencies can no longer turn a blind eye to allegations of domestic violence among their own," Regala said. "The legislation is about allowing the agencies to adopt the policies that best reflect their unique local situations. Every community is different, and this bill honors that."

Referring to the work of the Tacoma-based Task Force on Officer-Involved Domestic Violence created in response to the Brame shooting, Lantz added, "On behalf of the many dedicated task force members, this legislation reflects our united determination to assure that such a tragedy never happens again."

The governor also signed House Bills 2473, 1645 and Senate Bill 6384:

- HB 2473 - Weapons in Courthouse Buildings - Prohibits a law enforcement officer from bringing a weapon into a courthouse if the officer is at the courthouse as a party to a civil or criminal action involving domestic violence or harassment. Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, was the prime sponsor of this bill.

- HB 1645 - Domestic Violence Victims/Rental of Housing - Allows victims of domestic violence to terminate rental agreements without paying additional rent, and prohibits landlords from evicting or refusing to rent to them. Groups representing landlords as well as victims of domestic violence and sexual assault supported this bill. The prime sponsors are Rep. Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, and Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver.

- SB 6384 - Domestic Violence Offenders - Authorizes courts to impose an additional $100 penalty on those convicted of domestic violence crimes. The money would fund domestic-violence prevention programs and would stay in the county or city where the court imposed the penalty. The prime sponsors of this bill were Sen. Luke Esser, R-Bellevue, and Rep. Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines.

Locke said, "Here in Washington, we have some of the strongest laws in America against domestic violence - but we know we must do more. These bills I am signing will further strengthen our laws.-

 

 Governor Gary Locke's Remarks

Public Safety Bill Signing

March 15, 2004

Good afternoon. Thank you Connie.

I'm pleased to be in the great city of Tacoma, and I appreciate this opportunity to join you here at the Tacoma YWCA.

With me today are Sen. Regala, Rep. Lantz, Rep. Clibborn, Rep. Kessler, Sen. Luke Esser, Justice Barbara Madsen and Debra Hannula. I would also like to recognize Mayor Bill Baarsma.

We are here to sign into law an important victory for domestic violence victims in our state. And its appropriate to do so at the YWCA which has been dedicated to helping women for 98 years and has a shelter for victims of domestic violence.

We are also here to remember Crystal Brame, who died less than a year ago (April 2003). Crystal was the victim of years of domestic abuse. She was violently, senselessly taken from us. Crystal was a loved and loving mother, sister, daughter and friend. She left behind many who mourn her loss and cherish her memory. Her death left us with somber, agonizing questions: How could this have happened? And what can we do to prevent it from ever happening again?

The terrible tragedy of Crystal Brame's death painfully reminded us that domestic violence is found in every walk of life, every economic class, and every kind of relationship or family. Far too often, this is a concealed but deadly crime; one that comes to light only after it is too late.

Crystal Brame was one of 54 people who died as a result of domestic violence in Washington last year. Between 1997 and 2002, there were 390 domestic violence deaths in our state. We know those deaths are just the tip of the iceberg of domestic violence.

Here in Washington, we have some of the strongest laws in America against domestic violence. They include mandatory arrest, an expedited process for protective court orders, stiff penalties, and a confidential address registry for victims hiding from their abusers. We strengthened those laws four years ago, based on recommendations of the Domestic Violence Action Group I appointed after the tragedy of Linda David who was abused by her state paid caregiver, her husband.

To honor the memory of Crystal Brame and other victims of domestic violence, we must do more.

That's why we are here today. The bills I am signing this afternoon will strengthen our laws:

Substitute Senate Bill 6161

This bill requires that every police department and sheriff's department in the state adopt and enforce policies to deal with domestic violence committed by their officers by June 2005.

These policies must address:

  • Pre-hire screening;

  • Immediate reporting and response to allegations of domestic violence by officers;

  • Independent investigations;

  • Relieving accused officers of weapons; imposing discipline and sanctions;

  • Sharing information with victims and among agencies; and

  • Other issues that arise when an officer may be involved in domestic abuse.

 

The bill also requires the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs to develop, by December 2004, in consultation with victim advocates, a model policy that law enforcement agencies can use.

This new law requires hard and earnest work by police and sheriffs' departments across the state. I urge every law enforcement agency to adopt the policies before the June 2005 deadline, and to firmly apply them whenever there is a suspicion or report that an officer is involved in domestic violence. Let us do all we can to make sure that no member of a law enforcement family will ever again be victimized like Crystal Brame.

A task force that formed after the tragedy developed this bill. The co-chairs were Justice Barbara Madsen of our state Supreme Court, and attorney Debra Hannula of Pierce County.

Attorney General Christine Gregoire and her office were part of the task force. Attorney General Gregoire also hosted a statewide summit on domestic violence last fall, and produced a handbook for local governments on addressing this issue. Her work and the recommendation of the summit became part of this legislation. She wasn't able to attend this bill signing today because of a scheduled meeting in Washington, D.C.

The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, the Washington Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and many other groups and individuals also worked to develop and pass the bill. Senator Debbie Regala and Representative Pat Lantz were the prime sponsors and shepherded the legislation to final passage.

House Bill 2473

This bill prohibits a police officer from bringing a weapon into a courthouse if the officer is there as a party to a case involving harassment or domestic violence. Since a tragic domestic violence murder in the King County Courthouse about ten years ago, only police, military, or security personnel have been allowed to bring weapons into courthouses. This bill closes a loophole in that law to make sure that an officer in court as a party to a harassment or domestic violence case cannot bring in a weapon. Representative Judy Clibborn was the prime sponsor of this bill.

Second Engrossed House Bill 1645

Bill 1645 protects victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking with respect to residential rights and responsibilities. First, it allows a victim to leave a rented house or apartment without further obligation to pay rent, beyond the current month's rent, even if there is a lease for several more months. Second, it prohibits rental property owners from discriminating against tenants or prospective tenants who have been victims, either by evicting them or by refusing to rent to them. Groups representing landlords as well as victims of domestic violence and sexual assault supported this bill. The prime sponsors are Representative Lynn Kessler and Senator Don Benton.

Substitute Senate Bill 6384

This bill authorizes courts to impose an additional $100 penalty on those convicted of domestic violence crimes. These funds are to be used for local programs to prevent domestic violence, advocate for its victims, and prosecute abusers. The funds do not come to the state. They stay in the county or city where the court imposed the penalty. The prime sponsors of this bill were Senator Luke Esser and Representative Dave Upthegrove.

Conclusion

I congratulate the sponsors and the many people who worked to enact all these bills into law. I also commend the Legislature for adding $2 million to the state budget for programs that provide shelter, advocacy, and other help to victims of domestic violence. This is more than a 50 percent increase over current state funding for these services. It will help these anti-abuse programs across the state meet the nearly 35,000 requests for help they could not meet last year.

But the strongest laws and unlimited funding will not prevent domestic violence, or protect its victims, unless we are all committed to changing the values and attitudes in our culture that allow this violence to flourish. Values and attitudes such as: that men have a right to dominate and control women. Or that the physically fit have a right to victimize those with disabilities. Or that wearing a badge puts someone above the law.

Whether we are elected officials, police officers, private employers, co-workers, neighbors, landlords, or citizens, let us always remember that preventing domestic violence, as our 1999 task force emphasized, is everybody's business.

I will now sign these public safety bills into law. This is a great step forward for our state. Now we'll take your questions.


Domestic violence bill now law
Tacoma: Locke signs first such legislation geared toward police


KENNETH P. VOGEL; The News Tribune
Published: March 17th, 2004 03:35 AM

Less than 11 months after Tacoma Police Chief David Brame fatally shot his wife and himself, Gov. Gary Locke on Monday signed a law making Washington the first state requiring law enforcement agencies to enact policies for dealing with domestic violence by their own officers.

Brame's wife, Crystal, alleged in divorce papers filed in the months before the April 26 shootings that her husband had abused her for years.

At Monday's signing ceremony at the Tacoma YWCA, Locke said, "Her death left us with sobering and agonizing questions: How could this have happened? And what can we do to prevent it from ever happening again?"

The new law is a big step toward that goal, said state Rep. Patricia Lantz (D-Gig Harbor).

Lantz, sponsor of a bill mirroring the one Locke signed, worked with an ad-hoc committee of about 75 law enforcement, civic and labor leaders, lawyers and domestic violence advocates who spent months putting together the legislation.

"It was an extraordinary effort," Lantz said, "where we can say I think without question that out of the ashes of a horrible, horrific tragedy, a phoenix did rise and it (took) the form of this bill."

Senate Bill 6161 was one of four addressing domestic violence that Locke signed. The ceremony was attended by a host of lawmakers, Tacoma Police interim Chief Don Ramsdell, Mayor Bill Baarsma and City Manager Jim Walton.

The Tacoma Police Department last month adopted its own policy for so-called "officer-involved" domestic violence, which Lantz said is more strict than the requirements in the new law.

Sponsored by Sen. Debbie Regala (D-Tacoma), SB 6161 requires law enforcement agencies from the Washington State Police down to the smallest municipal departments to adopt by June 2005 minimum policies for handling police-involved domestic violence.

The requirements include:

- Screening applicants for past involvement - or accusations of involvement - in domestic violence.

- Sharing information on such incidents and accusations with other agencies.

- Offering counseling.

- Telling the person making the domestic violence allegation how the investigation is going.

- Requiring officers to report when one of their own is implicated in a domestic abuse situation.

- Requiring officers to report if they have been or are being investigated for allegations of child abuse or neglect, or if they are the subject of a restraining order.

Though the other three bills signed Monday were not prompted by Crystal Brame's slaying, Lantz said after the ceremony that the shootings spurred the Legislature to act.

"Often times, you make these quantum leaps forward only when you're forced into action," Lantz said, pointing to a $2 million appropriation for domestic violence services included in the budget lawmakers passed this month.

That's a 50 percent boost, said Locke, adding that, "It will help anti-abuse programs across the state meet some 35,000 requests for help that could not be met last year."

Locke said the 54 women who died last year in the state from domestic violence are "the tip of the iceberg."

Domestic abuse is far more common among police officers than in the general population, according to studies like two published in the early 1990s that found at least 40 percent of police officer families experience domestic violence.

Locke applauded the new laws, their sponsors and others who worked on them.

However, he said, "The strongest laws and unlimited funding will not prevent domestic violence or protect its victims unless we are all committed to changing the values and attitudes in our culture that allow this violence to flourish."

Kenneth P. Vogel: 360-754-6093
ken.vogel@mail.tribnet.com

Source