OLYMPIA, WA - Senate Bill 5055 has officially been signed into law. The new bill is set to transform the way police departments handle arbitrations reviewing police disciplinary actions, by creating a roster of 9 to 18 new arbitrators appointed by the Public Relations Employment Commission. Those arbitrators will be in charge of all the arbitrations police cases in the state.
The new law also aims to provide more transparency to the public and remove police bias.
Democratic Senator Joe Nguyen, who sponsored the bill says when he began to try to gather information about police arbitration cases in Washington state it simply did not exist, so he set out to change that.
"First off there was no transparency, because no one knew how many arbitration cases were there, nor would you be able to find them. In fact, in the process itself you can pick and choose who the arbitrator is which then obviously impacts the outcome. So what this does for the first time ever, would give the state the ability to see every single arbitration case in Washington state, plus their outcomes and it would be posted on line," Senator Nguyen told NBC Right Now.
Senate Bill 5055 is one of the few police reform bills that went through state legislation with strong bipartisan support, and the change is the first to come in decades.
"I think a lot of people have the perspective that something needs to change, and being able to build trust in the community is one of those first big steps… For us to have- just policing, but also that trust on both side," sais Senator Nguyen.
The new law will be in effect starting July 25th and it also require the appointed arbitrators to complete six hours of implicit bias and anti-racism training related to police work, along with ride-alongs with officers and participation in interactive firearms training.