Inslee signs Lovick bill to increase safety and diversity of Washington State Police

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill today authorizing 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.

“Flexible work schedules are going to help our agencies recruit and retain the next generation of police,” said Sen. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek), the prime sponsor of SB 5424. “It’s going to help us retain senior officers on staff, give agencies another tool for recruitment, and keep women and parents in their jobs, bringing us one step closer to our goal of increasing female representation in law enforcement to 30% by 2030.”

“This law moves us from well-intentioned rhetoric to genuine, systemic change that will accelerate positive transformation in police culture,” said Sue Rahr, former Sheriff of King County and former executive director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission. “Law enforcement is a profession that requires a lot of sacrifice, but we should not be asking new parents to choose between caring for their children and being a good officer. In survey after survey, women have cited the lack of flexible work schedules as a significant barrier to entering and remaining in the profession. Today, that changed.”

Under the Family Medical Leave Act, police agencies do offer up to twelve weeks of “special leave” after having a child, but having children can impact a parent’s sleep for years. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, sleep deprived officers die or are injured at a higher rate than their peers and are more likely to have negative interactions with the public or practice an inappropriate use of force.

“This is transformational,” said Lovick. “After today, we won’t be forcing good officers to retire because of inflexible work schedules. Alongside the new Criminal Justice Training Commission Regional Training Academies, this is just one more way we are changing the culture of policing for the better.”

If departments choose to allow flexible work schedules, they may require officers to work a certain number of years before being eligible. The bill would not alter any other requirements of being a law enforcement officer, such as mandatory training.

The bill will take effect on June 6, 2024.