Lantz sponsors violent cops bill

A bill inspired by the murder-suicide of Tacoma Police Chief David Brame and his estranged wife Crystal is already in the works months before the state Legislature is expected to reconvene, thanks in part to a Kitsap-area lawmaker.

Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, who also represents South Kitsap, said she intends to introduce a bill requiring all police agenices in the state to have set policies for dealing with officer-related domestic violence cases.

“Domestic violence is everybody’s business,” Lantz said. “Police agencies need policies in place that meet a set of minimum standards.”

That means the bill could have some flexibility by allowing individual agencies — which come in all different sizes depending on the service area — to write their own rules so long as they meet a set of minimum criteria.

“It wouldn’t be a one-size-fits-all approach,” Lantz said. “The City of Tacoma wouldn’t have the same thing in place as the City of Port Orchard.”

Lantz said Sen. Debbie Regala, D-Tacoma, plans to introduce an identical measure in the Senate during the upcoming session.

The proposed bill stems from work by the Crystal Clear Initiative Committee, of which both Lantz and Regala are members.

David Brame fatally shot his wife on April 26 in a Gig Harbor parking lot and then killed himself.

“This is a real logical step with the work that’s going on with the Crystal Clear group,” Lantz said. “The process has been extraordinary.”

Lantz said anywhere from 30 to 50 stakeholders representing law enforcement, personnel departments, domestic violence experts and other professionals have been meeting to hash out the details.

There has been no formal proposal yet, but momentum is building.

“I am very, very encouraged,” Lantz said. “The discussion has really evolved.”

By no means would the Crystal Clear bill be a slam dunk once it is formally introduced. Once there, it needs to survive committee hearings, the scrutiny of interest groups, and meet the approval of a majority of House and Senate members before going to Gov. Gary Locke for signature.

Lantz is forging ahead and hopes the stakeholders reach a consensus before the bill is introduced in Olympia.

Since the Brame tragedy, four law enforcement officers in Kitsap County have been involved in domestic violence cases including Michael Mayson, a Kitsap County deputy sheriff, who is facing felony assault charges.

His ex-wife is accusing him of assaulting her several times and threatening her. He is expected to go to trial next month.

“To me, the most important thing is prevention,” said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer.

Boyer said he’s been working with the Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs on domestic violence issues.

“If we work with legislators, we can resolve these issues,” Boyer said. “We’ve already had some meetings with the legislative caucuses, including Rep. Pat Lantz’s group.”

Boyer said each case should be weighed on an individual basis and that the focus should be on prevention, as well as on offender accountability and safety for the victim.

“I think the probability of having specific policies in each organization is going to happen and should happen,” Boyer said. “Perhaps it should happen for all government employees. I don’t want to see us limit ourselves in improving things.”

Boyer also cautioned the process should be deliberative and not just a knee-jerk reaction to recent events.

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