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Law enforcement must protect both public safety and the rights of individuals. This is why arrests and use of force should be last resorts, not first options, for police. The ACLU-WA advocates for stronger laws regulating police use of force, alternatives to arrest and incarceration, and de-escalation practices and training. And to ensure law enforcement is accountable to the people they serve, the ACLU-WA works for greater community oversight, such as independent civilian review boards with disciplinary authority.
Change state law on prosecuting police for killings
Victory:  Spokane Police will no longer unlawfully detain immigrants
Demand justice: There must be a just response to the killing of Charleena Lyles
Know your rights:  Download our guide on what to do if you're stopped by the police

Resources

News Release, Published: 
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The recently released footage of an incident during which a Seattle police officer is seen repeatedly kicking an African-American youth is yet another disturbing example in a string of recent incidents in which the Seattle Police Department has engaged in unnecessarily violent confrontations with citizens, all of whom have been people of color.  These repeated incidents over the last 18 months, which have continued unchecked and without forceful intervention by the Seattle Police Department, the mayor, or Seattle’s other elected officials, leads the ACLU to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether there is a pattern and practice of civil rights violations by the Seattle Police Department in violation of the constitution and federal law.  The ACLU is preparing a formal request to the Department of Justice for such an investigation, according to Kathleen Taylor, Executive Director.
Published: 
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Last Monday, just before 9 o'clock at night, a half dozen Seattle police officers in black tactical gear, with guns drawn, broke down the front door of an apartment with a battering ram and put the man they found inside in his bathrobe face down on his kitchen floor at gunpoint. The officers' search revealed two marijuana plants, each roughly 12 inches tall, and a document establishing that the man on the kitchen floor had been authorized by his physician to engage in the medical use of marijuana as provided under Washington state law. Read more
Published: 
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Last week saw the release of two annual federal government reports which highlight the pervasiveness of Marijuana in the U.S. Unfortunately, only one of these reports received attention from U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske. Read more
Published: 
Monday, September 13, 2010
Prescription opiate abuse (powerful pain killers) is a serious problem requiring smart policy solutions. Two policies intended to curb abuse of these powerful drugs highlight the right and wrong approach for dealing with the issue. Read more
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
In the wake of the tragic shooting of a Native American wood carver, the ACLU-WA told Seattle leaders they must provide leadership in preventing overreactions by police. Among other changes, officers must be trained to understand that “appearing different” doesn’t make someone a threat to public safety.
Published: 
Friday, September 3, 2010
Do you think Arizona, with its “papers please” law, is the only state where law enforcement officials are approaching travelers and asking about their citizenship? Think again. Federal immigration officials are asserting the authority to ask individuals about their citizenship far away from any border crossing or port. And they regularly question people as far as 100 miles away from any border. Nine of the most populous U.S. cities and two-thirds of our nation’s population reside within this “Constitution-free zone.” Read more
Published: 
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Gangs present a serious public safety challenge to our communities.  But the approach that our state has instinctively turned to in the past—relying on arresting and jailing those believed to be involved in gangs—fails to get to the root causes of the issue, and likely makes it worse.  To be sure, for Washington cities dealing with violent crime, such as those in the Yakima Valley, meeting this challenge means appropriately punishing violent offenders.  But it is equally critical to find avenues through which individuals can leave gangs and reenter the community.  Simply imprisoning gang members and telling them to leave gangs doesn’t work if there’s nothing else for them to do, and no resources to help them get out. Read more
Published: 
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
A feature story in the Washington Post this week highlighted what has become a nationwide problem since 9/11: police and security officers interfering with the rights of people to take photographs. As the Post put it, “Almost nine years after the terrorist attacks, which ratcheted up security at government properties and transportation hubs, anyone photographing federal buildings, bridges, trains or airports runs the risk of being seen as a potential terrorist.” Read more
Published: 
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
People rarely think about police accountability until their city is faced with a disturbing and well-publicized incident of police misconduct.  In Spokane that incident was the 2006 death of a mentally disabled man during an arrest.  Community outrage came immediately, but it took two years of public debate and discussion for the City Council and Mayor to enact an ordinance creating the Office of Police Ombudsman.  A little over a year ago, the City of Spokane took the next major step toward advancing police accountability by hiring its first Police Ombudsman.     Read more
Published: 
Monday, July 19, 2010
I've recently returned from vacation in San Diego, a beautiful city from which you can see Tijuana, or "TJ," as the locals call it. My family and I had a fabulous time relaxing, reuniting with loved ones, and stuffing our gullets with the wonders of Juanita's Taco Shop. But my husband broke my cardinal vacation rule - no talk about work, please - and brought up California's Proposition 19. That forced my hand: If you're going to talk about cannabis reform, you have to talk about Mexico.

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