Rep. Mike Hope, a Seattle police officer when he's not in Olympia crafting new laws, had a bill in the hopper -- until it was pulled earlier this week -- intended to prevent the Seattle Police Department from implementing the recommendations from the U.S. Justice Department. In a blistering report last month, DOJ found that Seattle cops were using excessive force and needed to adopt new practices.
This apparently did not sit well with Rep. Hope, a Lake Stevens Republican and Seattle officer and detective for the past 14 years. The bill (HB 2629) he proposed would stop SPD from revising its use of force policy "to clarify that officers must report any use of force above unresisted handcuffing, including the active pointing of firearms."
"What I want to do is put this in the hands -- not of Seattle -- but in the hands of the Legislature," Hope told Seattle Weekly today, in reference to a companion piece of legislation, HB 2630, which was introduced at the same time as HB 2629. "I think the state should decide whether to implement, and what to implement, from these recommendations.
"I want the public to have a seat at the table, and we also need to get feedback from the Washington State Training Commission and DOJ on how to proceed."
Hope stressed that he's not trying to thwart the SPD from following through developing new policies as the DOJ instructed it must on Dec. 16. "Whatever we decide to implement, it should be before the entire state -- not just Seattle police."
Asked whether he felt any obvious conflict of interest in proposing this kind of legislation, Hope replied, "No, I see no conflict."
HB 2629 no longer exists. "It all got too confusing about what it does," said Hope.
As a result of the "confusion," Hope is pressing ahead with HB 2630, which would create a task force to "review and analyze the methodologies, statistics, and data" used by DOJ in making its critical evaluation of SPD's use of force policies.
The task force Hope envisions would include state lawmakers, members of state and local law enforcement, the state attorney general's office and representatives of the Washington State Training Commission.
Hope, who achieved political notoriety by running (and losing) to Aaron Reardon for Snohomish County Executive last November, also has written into HB 2630 that any and all use of force policies are law enforcement matters that should left to the states under the Tenth Amendment and that any use of force policies "recommended or imposed by the federal government ... are not binding on state and local agencies."
Hope said he's not yet received any flak for the measures he's proposed. The lawmaker/cop, though, has had controversial moments before. In his 2010 race for the state House, he mailed out campaign brochures and made TV spots that showed him dressed in his Seattle police uniform. This sparked an investigation, since state law bars candidates from using "any of the facilities of a public office or agency" in promoting their campaigns. Hope was exonerated.
A hearing on Hope's task-force bill is set for Feb. 8 before the House Public Safety Committee.