The eighth police chief in the history of Lacey commented on the 2021 Washington State Legislature’s law enforcement reform at the July Lacey South Sound Chamber of Commerce Forum today.
Chief Robert Almada, who was elevated to the top position after having served as Lacey’s interim chief for the past year, broke down various legal definitions and new policy updates from state lawmakers to a crowd of 60 chamber attendees.
“I have a dry sense of humor and a bunch of bad dad jokes,” Almada said about his presenting style. “This year we had 105 wonderful days of the legislative session, in which they specifically didn’t listen to law enforcement about legislating policing. All of the legislation came from the community. It feels good to listen to those in the community, but legally it’s tough to undertake when you don’t listen to those who are actually involved in law enforcement day-to-day.”
Almada referred to the changes in the legislative impact as a new paradigm of policing overall, covering subjects like tactics, drug possession and usage of technology such as cameras while detaining suspects.
“I’m sure it’s gonna work seamlessly,” Almada said.
Almada highlighted House Bill 1310 which became Washington State Law in 2021, concerning the permissible use of force by law enforcement and correctional officers.
“There’s a lot of stuff to unpack in that law. I don’t know what permissible use of force is because it's not clearly defined,” he said. “It’s 320 pages of law. One of my commanders now wears glasses after reading every word of it.”
Some of the confusion in the ways that the policing laws were written comes from the fact that law enforcement’s input was left out of the discussion, Almada said.
“When you don’t listen to law enforcement when you create these laws, that’s what happens,” Almada said. “We used to do things that we can’t do anymore. We’re back to the Cromag days where we are throwing rocks. And they are not going to accomplish what they want to accomplish by removing tools which avoid deadly use of force.”
The legal definitions of what and what doesn’t constitute a violation of use of force have several entities on edge, Almada said.
“Nobody wants to be the first person to test out these new laws.”