Washington police reform bill backfired on people in crisis

Posted at 12:09 PM, Jan 30, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-30 12:09:56-05

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington lawmakers are racing to fix a police reform law that has backfired on some of the state's most vulnerable residents.

Last year, Democrats in Olympia passed ambitious police reform legislation, including restrictions on the use of force. Law enforcement groups said it would hinder their ability to detain people in a mental health crisis.

That was a debatable interpretation of the law, but one that cities across the state adopted as they sought to shield their police from liability for possibly misusing force. Behavioral health experts say that in the six months since the law took effect, it has become more difficult to get help for people in crisis, with tragic results.