TACOMA, Wash. — As Mayor of Tacoma, I want to express my profound gratitude to Speaker of the House Laurie Jinkins, prime sponsor Representative Debra Entenman, and the House of Representatives of the Washington State Legislature for their leadership in passing House Bill 1267, establishing the Office of Independent Investigations. This landmark legislation ensures that investigations into incidents involving the use of deadly force by police will be conducted by a state-level agency consisting of non-law enforcement personnel. Importantly, this new structure for independent investigations is designed to be informed by balanced perspectives through an advisory board comprised of community voices as well as law enforcement.
In the wake of the tragic death of Mr. Manuel Ellis in Tacoma Police custody one year ago, I heard our community’s frustration and lack of trust in the investigation process. It became clear that keeping deadly use of force investigations at the local level would not serve the public interest. I was pleased when Governor Jay Inslee convened the Task Force on Independent Investigations to develop recommendations on legislation to address this complex issue. The Tacoma City Council approved a legislative agenda that placed top priority on supporting the Task Force’s recommendations. During the 2021 legislative session, I have been honored to support the efforts of legislative leadership and the many community members and families of individuals impacted by deadly use of force by police. I am committed to working to advance this crucial legislation as it is considered in the Senate.
I am heartened and encouraged by recent progress on policing and criminal justice systems transformation at both the state and federal levels. Yesterday, on the one-year anniversary of Mr. Ellis’ death, we saw the passage of House Bill 1267 in the Washington State House of Representatives, as well as the passage of the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act in the United States House of Representatives. I want to especially thank Congress Members Derek Kilmer, Adam Smith, and Marilyn Strickland for their affirmative votes on comprehensive reform at the federal level. In these historic times, it is crucial for leaders at all levels of government to work together and enact real policy change to ensure that the people we serve can live in dignity and freedom. I look forward to continued partnership with our state and federal leaders to build upon this progress and bring about the transformation that our communities deserve.