Police Reform

To our Fife Community:

In 2021, our State Legislature enacted several bills related to law enforcement. The majority of the police reform bills went into effect on July 25, 2021, and have required changes in how we will deliver police services.

Fife Police will continue to respond to any call for service that involves a threat to “life safety” issues. The calls that are most likely to be impacted are those calls that involve no crime at all. 

These can include, but are not limited to:

  • Welfare checks
  • Civil standbys not required by order or law
  • Suspicious person calls with no link to a crime or possible crime
  • Medical aid calls
  • Subjects that have mental health issues or are acting strangely or erratically, but are not committing a crime

While this list is not exclusive, it is also not concrete.  We will rely on our supervisors to assess calls and determine if an in-person or other type of response is appropriate under the new laws, or if the call should be shifted to another non-law enforcement entity.

The Fife Police Department is committed to ensuring safety in our community. How we provide that safety and how we resolve issues moving forward has been drastically impacted by the new laws that have taken effect. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we work through these changes and our officers navigate their new environment. If you have concerns or questions about this new legislation, I urge you to contact our 25th district legislators directly.

For more information, and to familiarize yourself with how the new laws affect the Fife Police Department, please see our summary of legislative changes below.

Chief Peter Fisher
Fife Police Department

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CHAT WITH THE CHIEF: EPISODE 5

Fife Police Chief Pete Fisher has a regular video series called Chat with the Chief. Episode 5 features a special guest. Mayor Kim Roscoe joins Chief Fisher to discuss recent police reform legislation in Washington. The conversation takes a deep dive into how the Fife Police Department is adapting to the new legislation. Want to view the entire library of Chat with the Chief videos? Visit https://cityoffife.org/fifepdcomms.

  1. POLICE TACTICS
  2. USE OF FORCE
  3. DRUG POSSESSION
  4. DUTY TO INTERVENE
  5. FELONY BAR
  6. INDEPENDENT INVESTIGATIONS
  7. INVESTIGATION AUDITS
  8. DATA COLLECTION
  9. ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

POLICE TACTICS AND SPECIAL WEAPONS (HB 1054

THIS LEGISLATION: 

 

Prohibits the use of a chokehold or neck restraints  

Definitions: "Chokehold" means the intentional application of direct pressure to a person's trachea or windpipe for the purpose of restricting another person's airway. "Neck Restraint" refers to any vascular neck restraint or similar restraint, hold, or other tactic in which pressure is applied to the neck for the purpose of constricting blood flow.

Fife Police Department policy was already in line with the changes on chokeholds and neck restraints.

Directs the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC) to develop statewide model for policy for the training and use of K9 Teams

Limits vehicular pursuits and prohibits them unless the officer has probable cause that a crime (violent or sex offense) has been or is being committed. Or, there is a reasonable suspicion of DUI and other stipulations

Over the past few years, the Fife Police Department's Pursuit Policy had become more stringent, limiting pursuits to felony crimes of violence. Some minor adjustments in our policy were made to ensure Fife PD is in compliance with this new legislation. Given the changes in the law regarding police pursuits, any pursuit by a Fife Police Officer should be very rare.

Limits shooting at moving vehicles

The Fife Police Department was already in line with this change. FPD Policy 300.4.1 states: "An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the imminent threat of the vehicle or of deadly force other than the vehicle that is directed at the officer or others (Chapter 320 § 7, 2021 Laws). Officers should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle."

Bans no-knock warrants

Bans use of military equipment

HB 1054 has created a large debate across the state with sheriffs, chiefs and their legal advisors regarding “Military Equipment.”  The legislature defined “Military Equipment” as firearms and ammunition of .50 caliber or greater.  While well-intentioned, the majority of less-lethal options deployed by Washington State law enforcement agencies are either 37/40 mm launchers or specially designated 12 gauge shotguns that deliver a less-lethal payload.  Since both of these tolls are defined as firearms, and the diameter of the rounds is greater than .50 caliber, they could be considered “Military Equipment” and must be destroyed by December 2022. Departments whose legal advisors believe that these platforms are, indeed, “Military Equipment” have had to suspend their use and now have fewer less-lethal tools at their disposal.  Another challenge is the Bill contradicts HB 1310, which states departments must provide officers with less-lethal options.  For Fife, we have suspended the use of the 12-gauge shotguns and our 40-mm less-lethal launchers because they meet the definition of “Military Equipment.”   We were able to identify an alternative platform for less-lethal munitions and are in the process of training our instructors and officers and will have the new tool in the field in the coming weeks.

Requires uniformed officers be identifiable