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Elected officials must OK tear gas use by cops in Washington under compromise plan

Washington lawmakers met Thursday to come up with a compromise plan on limiting the use of tear gas by police.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Mayors, county executives or even the governor would have to give their approval before police could use tear gas to quell riots under a compromise reached in the Washington Legislature. 

A conference committee of the House and Senate met Thursday to reconcile versions of a police tactics bill already approved by each chamber. 

The Senate version would have barred the use of tear gas at public riots. The House version would have allowed it with certain restrictions to address threats of serious harm. 

The compromise allows it to be used at riots, but only with the prior approval of the highest elected official in the jurisdiction.

Senate Bill 1054 also includes other provisions to reform police tactics, such as banning chokeholds and no-knock warrants and putting limits on when officers can shoot at a moving vehicle during a pursuit.

RELATED: Mother of man killed by police hopes lawsuit, more diversity in Washington Legislature will change laws

Several police accountability and overhaul proposals have been considered in the state Legislature this session, following worldwide protests against police brutality and racial injustice sparked by George Floyd's death while in the custody of ex-Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin.

Other Washington state police overhaul proposals include:

  • Senate Bill 5066, which requires a peace officer to intervene if they observe another peace officer using excessive force. That bill is heading to Inslee's desk.
  • Senate Bill 5051, which makes it easier to decertify police for bad acts. It requires departments to conduct broader background checks for officers before hiring them, expands civilian representation on the Criminal Justice Training Commission and requires the commission to maintain a publicly searchable database of officers. This bill received final Senate approval Wednesday.