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Bill requiring crisis intervention training born from Ostling shooting

OLYMPIA – Building on lessons learned in the aftermath of a fatal encounter between police and a mentally ill Bainbridge Island man, Sen. Christine Rolfes has introduced legislation that would standardize crisis intervention training for law enforcement officers in Washington.

“Our peace officers routinely encounter difficult situations; we should give them all the skills and tools they need to defuse those situations and, if at all possible, avoid the kind of officer-involved shootings we’ve seen on Bainbridge Island and elsewhere in Washington State,” said Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island.

In late 2010, Doug Ostling was shot and killed in his apartment at his parents’ home by police officers who were responding to his incoherent 911 call. Officers said they saw Ostling inside with an ax. Later his family challenged the officers’ actions in court.

The controversy led to community discussion, and Douglas Ostling’s parents, William and Joyce, proposed the original concept behind Senate Bill 5532. Developed with input from the Criminal Justice Training Commission, it would require law enforcement officers in the state to receive enhanced training in crisis intervention and set standards for on-going training.

“No words are strong enough to describe the grief we feel after the shooting death of our child, Douglas, by the police in our home and in our presence,” said William Ostling. “Our desire to prevent such tragedies from happening to another family compels us to press forward with this legislation, which will ensure all law enforcement officers are trained to identify a mental health or personal crisis, skilled in verbal de-escalation techniques, and aware of available resources for additional assistance and referral.  The provision of training and funding for training is key in producing the best possible outcomes for police officers and citizens alike in a time of need.”

The bill is scheduled for a public hearing at 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 18, in the Senate Committee on Law & Justice. The hearing will be available on Washington’s public affairs network Website, TVW.org.

Rep. Sherry Appleton, D-Poulsbo, is sponsoring the companion bill, House Bill 1559, in the House of Representatives.

 

 

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