Candidate forum: 32nd District candidates discuss police accountability

Thursday, July 16, 2020

By Evan Smith

Incumbent Democratic 32nd District State Rep. Cindy Ryu and Democratic challengers Keith Smith and Shirley Sutton all say that police need to be more accountable.

Democrats Ryu, Smith and Sutton will meet in the Aug. 4 primary with the top two candidates advancing to the Nov. 3 general election.

No Republicans or independents filed for the position.

Sutton - Smith - Ryu

Ryu, Smith and Sutton have sent responses to the question, “What can the legislature do to prevent the kind of police behavior that recently killed a man in Minneapolis?” Here are their responses:

Legislative District 32, State Representative Pos. 1

Shirley Sutton (Prefers Democratic Party)

Police are legally protected and in many cases impossible to prosecute for crimes – even when captured on video! In 2018, I-940 passed with a 60% vote in WA State. I propose that I-940 gives us the opportunity to upgrade Washington’s police accountability laws. Perhaps upgraded performance evaluations and reviews like all other professions needs to be more frequent. In most cases, there’s no accountability to the community. Right now, the most important thing is to listen to the demands from our communities of color.

Keith Smith (Prefers Democratic Party)

The legislature needs to increase accountability for inappropriate use of force. This includes independent oversight, judicial involvement in investigations, and increasing transparency for the public to know which officers have received complaints.

We also need to de-police situations. This means fully funding social services. We need to focus on getting social workers to mental health and drug use situations. Too often the police are called to situations where they are not needed. By removing the gun from those situations we will dramatically decrease the chances of a tragic outcome.

Cindy Ryu (Prefers Democratic Party)

In 2016, my House Bill 2908 established the joint legislative task force on police use of deadly force. Subsequently, I-940 adopted some of its recommendations. We must now change our laws to prohibit chokeholds and other holds that use pressure on the neck; mandate community oversight boards for all police agencies in the state, including WSP; conduct completely independent criminal investigations of injuries and deaths from police use of force and custody; and provide that officers with sustained misconduct complaints must lose their commissions and cannot transfer to other agencies.

Evan Smith can be reached at


Anonymous,  July 16, 2020 at 11:36 AM  

Which of these candidates have direct experience of law enforcement? How many of them have even been on a ride-along? How many of them have worked jobs where their lives are on the line every day, and where a seemingly routine task (like a traffic stop, as we saw in Bothell) can turn deadly in the blink of an eye?

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