SEDRO-WOOLLEY, WA – On a June 9th post to Facebook, the Sedro-Woolley Police Department referenced a recent incident their officers responded to in order to illustrate the hindrances brought on by police reforms brought on by legislators in the state.
In the June 9th post written by Chief Lin Tucker, the description of the incident referenced and the ensuing response by police was prefaced with the following:
“One of our main reasons for having our social media page is so that we can easily communicate with those we serve. This message is regarding an incident that happened last night.
The last Legislative Session in Olympia has resulted in multiple changes in how we do business and we would like to explain what some of these changes really mean.”
The post went on to describe an incident that occurred on the evening of June 8th where officers responded to a domestic incident involving roommates arguing, where there were concerns about one subject – likely under the influence of something – posing a physical threat to others.
According to Chief Tucker, officers encountered the following upon arriving at the residence:
“Officers arrived and found an out-of-control male acting erratically and showing signs of substance use. He was making statements to officers asking them to shoot him and to shoot him in the back.
The male also made comments about wanting to have inappropriate relations with officers on the scene. The male was also damaging a motorcycle and a passenger car he owned.”
The subject was said to have then stood on top of a vehicle and continued to tear “pieces of the motorcycle” and threw the torn vehicles part into the air.
Officers on scene called for the Mobile Crisis Outreach Team from the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office, who responded to the residence. This response was in concurrence with the two Sedro-Woolley PD sergeants who are trained crisis negotiators and the officers that were up to date on crisis intervention training.
According to Chief Tucker, even with the said resources on scene, the following transpired:
“The MCOT unit arrived and also tried to communicate with the subject. He continued to yell unintelligible and sometimes random things. He continued being verbally aggressive with officers and onlookers as he moved with officers around the area of the 1000 and 1100 block of Warner St.
“The male took off all of his clothing except his underwear. The male also bit a tree and tried to lick up the sap. He continued to refuse assistance, or to talk with Officers or the mental health worker, or to voluntarily go to the hospital for treatment. The behavior that he exhibited likely was caused by mental health issues and substance abuse.”
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Despite all the aforementioned taking place, responding authorities had their proverbial hands tied with respect to applying any sort of physical force due to the nature of the call:
“Recently laws, specifically HB1310, limit when officers are allowed to go hands-on or use force against a subject involved in a crisis either caused by mental health issues or caused by an ingested substance.”
After roughly 90 minutes after being dispatched to the residence, the subject was said to have eventually made his way back into his home. However, the time spent on this call was at the expense of other “priority calls” being placed on hold:
“Eventually, units on scene were able to move the subject towards his residence where no one else was inside. Officers moved with him in that direction and after extensive patience and time, got him to go inside.
At about 9:46pm all officers and deputies cleared the scene with the male inside the residence still yelling and screaming. During this incident, multiple priority calls were left pending.”
And roughly 30 minutes after getting the subject back into his home, police were called out to the residence again – for the same person allegedly causing a stir outside his home with a roommate:
“At about 10:09pm Sedro-Woolley Officers were dispatched back to the residence. The male was reported to be outside yelling and screaming at his roommate.
After speaking with witnesses of this incident, no crime was found to have been committed. The male went back to the residence just before officers arrived on the scene. Officers again cleared the area at 10:26pm.”
After detailing the account from the domestic call, the Facebook post shared a bulleted list of “lessons learned” from this call in concurrence with the recently passed legislation:
- The world as we know it has changed.
- An exceptional team of 6-8 Officers and Deputies, along with a Mental Health specialist team spent roughly 2 hours talking a guy into going back into his house.
- As recent as a month ago, we would have spent some time negotiating with this guy and when that failed, we would have quickly subdued him and he would be receiving treatment in the E.R. (As we have done hundreds of times before.)
- The residents of that neighborhood are probably feeling less safe and more frustrated after the event.
- The Officers and Mental Health providers did all that they could to mitigate a mess but were thwarted by “Legislative Mandates” that forced us not to act and to walk away. HB1310, Section 3 (2)(a), covers our response pretty clearly.
- We still have a resident of our City that still has serious problems, but he’s been convinced to go back into his residence.
- No one got hurt, except maybe the guy who seemed to be feeling no pain at the time.
- Our body worn cameras are well worth the money! They document an outstanding job done by the first responders.
- Even if the State Supreme Court has overturned the laws regarding the legality of certain drugs, it’s still a bad idea to use them.
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