OLYMPIA — Earlier this year Mukilteo Police Chief Andy Illyn approached Sen. Marko Liias (D-Edmonds) with an idea to better define what it means to be a peace officer in Washington state and help all officers in the state better do the jobs they were trained to perform. 

That idea took the form of Senate Bill 6181, the substance of which was folded into Senate Bill 5424. That bill received a unanimous vote Monday in the Senate. 

Liias’ policy fixes contradictory language in state law. The bill will resolve a definitional ambiguity, which unintentionally reclassified Mukilteo’s park rangers, animal control officers and others as fully-commissioned peace officers, requiring them to take 720 credit hours of peace officer training.  

“Chief Illyn has been a great partner, and I’m so glad that he alerted me to this technical glitch and that we could find a solution to it,” Liias said. “This will allow our park rangers and animal control officer to do the job they were trained to do and allow these unarmed officers who do not need to attend the full police academy to avoid that unnecessary step.” 

“I want to thank Sen. Liias for his partnership in passing Senate Bill 5424. The changes approved in the bill have removed any ambiguity regarding the training requirements for our non-commissioned staff, enabling our department’s community service officers to effectively enforce our community parks, animal laws, and parking. In a time of short staffing, we must utilize every member of the police department to their full potential, and this bill has facilitated just that. Sen. Liias’ support has been instrumental in advancing the effectiveness of our law enforcement efforts, and we are immensely thankful for his dedication to this vital cause,” Illyn said. 

Liias’ bill was added in the House to a bill sponsored by Sen. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek). The policy in Lovick’s bill authorizes Washington law enforcement agencies to adopt flexible work policies that do not require an officer to work 40 hours per week to be considered a law enforcement officer. The hope is that the additional flexibility will help attract and retain law enforcement officers by offering a better work-life balance. 

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done to support law enforcement in communities across our state through additional funding, regional training centers, flexible work schedules and much more,” Liias said.