Dave Paul

Dave Paul

Sound Off: Local law enforcement needs continued investments

  • Tuesday, September 14, 2021 12:19pm
  • Opinion

In my three years in office, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to law enforcement officials, constituents, and communities of color about improving public safety.

Last year, as many across our community and nation responded to the murder of George Floyd, these conversations took on new urgency as we discussed ways of reducing systemic bias, strengthening law-enforcement training, and ensuring all members of our community are safe.

It’s helpful to recognize how much agreement there is in within our community. I continue to be impressed with the commitment of our local law enforcement agencies to improving public safety, including ensuring that community members who are experiencing a mental health, addiction, or housing crisis quickly receive the appropriate help. There is no doubt that our community does not have enough psychiatric and addiction recovery professionals and services, and we do not have enough emergency and temporary housing.

We must continue to invest in public safety, including ensuring that law enforcement agencies have embedded mental health counselors and social workers to partner with police officers when assisting an individual in crisis.

Similarly, our state must continue to invest in mental health beds, addiction recovery treatment programs, and housing so that putting people in jail is not our only alternative for preventing self-harm.

We face a looming workforce shortage of law enforcement personnel as many police officers and deputies near retirement. To help with this problem, we increased funding for the state’s law enforcement academy, and I’m pleased to report that all four current classes are at capacity.

At the same time, we must do more to ensure local agencies can be fully staffed. Local sheriffs and police chiefs have asked—at times practically begged—county and city councils for increased funding over the last decade to pay their officers fairly and improve services.

Many of the bills passed in the 2021 legislative session incorporated feedback from the Fraternal Order of Police and continue our state’s commitment to de-escalation training, which was mandated by voters with the passage of I-940 in 2018. These are major pieces of legislation, and there were concerns about what police could and could not do in some emergencies.

For example, some worried that the use of force directives could prohibit the ability of police to respond to an individual who is in mental health crisis but not committing a crime.

A recent opinion by the state’s Attorney General clarifies that law enforcement have the authority to respond to these calls, even if the individual is not involved in criminal conduct.

Few bills are perfect when they are enacted, which is why listening to feedback from law enforcement and community groups is vital to improving these new laws. I’m working to do just that as I prepare for the 2022 legislative session, and I appreciate the time our law enforcement leaders are taking to discuss their concerns. The only way to move forward is if we continue to listen to each other and work together to keep everyone safe.

Rep. Dave Paul is an Oak Harbor resident who represents District 10 in the state House of Representatives.

More in Opinion

Benner
My two cents: Change on council is opportunity to move forward together

First off, let me offer my formal and public congratulations to the… Continue reading

Dave Paul
Sound Off: Our ferry system is vital — and it needs reform

We need better ferry service. As you know, we’ve seen far too… Continue reading

Harry
Rockin’ A Hard Place: Squanto didn’t live on our Rock, but we felt his generous spirit

Every year as Thanksgiving approaches, it’s comforting to fall back on that… Continue reading

In our opinion: Everyone should shop local for the holidays

Shopping local is always a good idea everywhere, but this year there… Continue reading

In our opinion: Plans to rebuild Windjammer windmill are overdue

Four years ago, Oak Harbor officials’ decision to raze the windmill in… Continue reading

Letter: City leaders should consider changing form of government

Oak Harbor Councilmember Tara Hizon was right on the money when she… Continue reading

My Two Cents: Worth more than the paper it’s written on

I have experienced a wonderful time here on the island. From being… Continue reading

Soundoff: Ferry delays are a dire emergency for Whidbey residents

By Island County Commissioner Melanie Bacon Whidbey Island is the largest island… Continue reading

In our opinion: Fleming, Bobis, Salerno are right for Langley council

The best candidates for Langley City Council are relatively easy to identify,… Continue reading

Rockin’ a Hard Place: How teaching on our Rock became a culture war zone

When I was in my senior year of high school several centuries… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: Hoffmire, Mischo, Stucky are right for council

Election season has exposed a rift between Oak Harbor City Council and… Continue reading

In Our Opinion: School board incumbents need voters’ support

The schools need leaders who will work together and get things done, not argue over dogma.