By Juan Morfin
The Washington State Journal 

Use of force modified for youth, mentally ill


March 10, 2022

People with mental health problems and juveniles can be detained or restrained by law enforcement, according to new legislation on the use of force.

The new law, House Bill 1735, passed the Washington State House with a 90-5 vote, and passed in the Senate 49-0. It was signed into law Friday, March 4 by Gov. Jay Inslee.

The bill was drafted to end confusion caused by the adoption of a law last year that prevented crisis responders from receiving police assistance.

“It adjusts 2021 police reform legislation by clarifying when an officer can use reasonable force in a non-criminal incident, such as a mental health crisis,” Inslee said.

Incidents surrounding involuntary treatments are also covered under this bill.

“That's the nature of involuntary treatment, and sometimes that may involve a minor use of force such as having to put someone in a car or transport them or get them out of a car to get them into an emergency room for treatment,” said Hoquiam Chief of Police Jeff Myers.

Furthermore, the bill clarifies the threat standard for an officer to use deadly force.

Under last year’s legislation, the use of deadly force was justified only to protect against an “imminent threat” of serious injury or death for the officer or another person.

House Bill 1735 changes this standard by saying an “immediate” threat must be present.

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