Rep. Dan Griffey issues statement on the effects of recent law enforcement changes on first responders

During the 2021 legislative session, majority party lawmakers from both the House and Senate introduced and passed multiple bills aimed at reforming law enforcement. While the intent may have been to improve law enforcement, some of these measures have unintended consequences that will affect everyone in Washington.

Instead of defunding the police, these new laws will disarm the police and remove important tools they have to help de-escalate situations. The new polices will not only make it harder for law enforcement officers to protect communities, but they will also have a negative impact on first responders.

35th District Rep. Dan Griffey, R-Allyn, issued the following statement in response to these new measures:

“As a fire service lieutenant/EMT with Central Mason, I have a very grounded approach to legislation and often an insight into how bills will affect our first responders and those they serve. Some bills passed this session may have seemed helpful on the surface, but instead have dire consequences that not only put our first responders in jeopardy but also those who call on them. This will lead to dangerous consequences, putting our neighborhoods and families at greater risk.

“Often, people with substance abuse problems who find themselves in emergency situations tend to become very violent. These incidents are dangerous to everyone involved because of the unpredictable behavior patterns displayed by people experiencing an emergency. During these emergencies, first responders and those suffering from these disorders have been injured or even killed due to the very erratic and unpredictably violent behaviors displayed by those suffering from substance and mental health crisis.

“Because of these new policies, our law enforcement officers have been limited in the tools they can use to help those suffering from mental illness. Additionally, as these new laws take effect, it has been decided that officers will only respond to those in crisis who request assistance.

“However, this does not apply to our fire and EMS personal who are required to render assistance. First responders have often counted on mutual aid from law enforcement officers to protect us and citizens from a hostile and violent response from those in crisis. This will no longer be possible due to the new legislation passed this year.

“I voted against these bills because I knew how they would affect boots on the ground, and it is something I want you to be aware of. Many who pursued a career in a field based on helping people, may no longer be able to do so safely for you or themselves because of these new laws.

“We want everyone to go home safe to their families and that includes those we serve as well as our first responders. As a fire officer, it is my duty to render aid, as well as to protect my crew, both of which have been made much more difficult, if not impossible, because of this new legislation.

“I will be working hard to address this new reality, both with legislation and working with all parties involved. We cannot afford to make legislative decisions that will irreparably harm our citizens and we cannot afford to put off solutions until tomorrow that are needed today.”

For more information:

New law limiting police use of force in Washington may make mental health response more difficult

Police say it is hands off for some mental health cases after use-of-force law change


Washington State House Republican Communications