Chapter 10.120 RCW

LAW ENFORCEMENT AND CORRECTIONAL OFFICERSPERMISSIBLE USES OF FORCE

Sections

10.120.010Definitions.
10.120.020Permissible uses of force.
10.120.030Policies for use of force and de-escalation tactics.


Definitions.

The definitions in this section apply throughout this chapter unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(1) "Law enforcement agency" includes any "general authority Washington law enforcement agency" and any "limited authority Washington law enforcement agency" as those terms are defined in RCW 10.93.020.
(2) "Less lethal alternatives" include, but are not limited to, verbal warnings, de-escalation tactics, conducted energy weapons, devices that deploy oleoresin capsicum, batons, and beanbag rounds.
(3) "Peace officer" includes any "general authority Washington peace officer," "limited authority Washington peace officer," and "specially commissioned Washington peace officer" as those terms are defined in RCW 10.93.020; however, "peace officer" does not include any corrections officer or other employee of a jail, correctional, or detention facility, but does include any community corrections officer.

NOTES:

Intent2021 c 324: "The legislature recognizes that additional clarity is necessary following the passage of Initiative Measure No. 940 (chapter 1, Laws of 2019) and Substitute House Bill No. 1064 (chapter 4, Laws of 2019). The legislature intends to address excessive force and discriminatory policing by establishing a requirement for law enforcement and community corrections officers to act with reasonable care when carrying out their duties, including using de-escalation tactics and alternatives to deadly force. Further, the legislature intends to address public safety concerns by limiting the use of deadly force to very narrow circumstances where there is an imminent threat of serious physical injury or death. It is the intent of the legislature that when practicable, peace officers will use the least amount of physical force necessary to overcome actual resistance under the circumstances.
It is the fundamental duty of law enforcement to preserve and protect all human life." [ 2021 c 324 § 1.]



Permissible uses of force.

(1)(a) Except as otherwise provided under this section, a peace officer may use physical force against a person when necessary to: Protect against criminal conduct where there is probable cause to make an arrest; effect an arrest; prevent an escape as defined under chapter 9A.76 RCW; or protect against an imminent threat of bodily injury to the peace officer, another person, or the person against whom force is being used.
(b) A peace officer may use deadly force against another person only when necessary to protect against an imminent threat of serious physical injury or death to the officer or another person. For purposes of this subsection (1)(b):
(i) "Imminent threat of serious physical injury or death" means that, based on the totality of the circumstances, it is objectively reasonable to believe that a person has the present and apparent ability, opportunity, and intent to immediately cause death or serious bodily injury to the peace officer or another person.
(ii) "Necessary" means that, under the totality of the circumstances, a reasonably effective alternative to the use of deadly force does not exist, and that the amount of force used was a reasonable and proportional response to the threat posed to the officer and others.
(iii) "Totality of the circumstances" means all facts known to the peace officer leading up to and at the time of the use of force, and includes the actions of the person against whom the peace officer uses such force, and the actions of the peace officer.
(2) A peace officer shall use reasonable care when determining whether to use physical force and when using any physical force against another person. To that end, a peace officer shall:
(a) When possible, exhaust available and appropriate de-escalation tactics prior to using any physical force, such as: Creating physical distance by employing tactical repositioning and repositioning as often as necessary to maintain the benefit of time, distance, and cover; when there are multiple officers, designating one officer to communicate in order to avoid competing commands; calling for additional resources such as a crisis intervention team or mental health professional when possible; calling for back-up officers when encountering resistance; taking as much time as necessary, without using physical force or weapons; and leaving the area if there is no threat of imminent harm and no crime has been committed, is being committed, or is about to be committed;
(b) When using physical force, use the least amount of physical force necessary to overcome resistance under the circumstances. This includes a consideration of the characteristics and conditions of a person for the purposes of determining whether to use force against that person and, if force is necessary, determining the appropriate and least amount of force possible to effect a lawful purpose. Such characteristics and conditions may include, for example, whether the person: Is visibly pregnant, or states that they are pregnant; is known to be a minor, objectively appears to be a minor, or states that they are a minor; is known to be a vulnerable adult, or objectively appears to be a vulnerable adult as defined in RCW 74.34.020; displays signs of mental, behavioral, or physical impairments or disabilities; is experiencing perceptual or cognitive impairments typically related to the use of alcohol, narcotics, hallucinogens, or other drugs; is suicidal; has limited English proficiency; or is in the presence of children;
(c) Terminate the use of physical force as soon as the necessity for such force ends;
(d) When possible, use available and appropriate less lethal alternatives before using deadly force; and
(e) Make less lethal alternatives issued to the officer reasonably available for their use.
(3) A peace officer may not use any force tactics prohibited by applicable departmental policy, this chapter, or otherwise by law, except to protect his or her life or the life of another person from an imminent threat.
(4) Nothing in this section prevents a law enforcement agency or political subdivision of this state from adopting policies or standards with additional requirements for de-escalation and greater restrictions on the use of physical and deadly force than provided in this section.

NOTES:

Intent2021 c 324: See note following RCW 10.120.010.



Policies for use of force and de-escalation tactics.

(1) By July 1, 2022, the attorney general shall develop and publish model policies on law enforcement's use of force and de-escalation tactics consistent with RCW 10.120.020.
(2) By December 1, 2022, all law enforcement agencies shall: Adopt policies consistent with the model policies and submit copies of the applicable policies to the attorney general; or, if the agency did not adopt policies consistent with the model policies, provide notice to the attorney general stating the reasons for any departures from the model policies and an explanation of how the agency's policies are consistent with RCW 10.120.020, including a copy of the agency's relevant policies. After December 1, 2022, whenever a law enforcement agency modifies or repeals any policies pertaining to the use of force or de-escalation tactics, the agency shall submit notice of such action with copies of any relevant policies to the attorney general within 60 days.
(3) By December 31st of each year, the attorney general shall publish on its website a report on the requirements of this section, including copies of the model policies, information as to the status of individual agencies' policies, and copies of any agency policies departing from the model policies.

NOTES:

Intent2021 c 324: See note following RCW 10.120.010.