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News / Politics / Clark County Politics

Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins says House Bill 1310 carries risks

He says under new legislation, deputies might not show up

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: July 24, 2021, 4:35pm

Clark County Sheriff Chuck Atkins warned of potential risks, including decreased responses to calls, when he outlined how his department intends to implement state police reform legislation that went into effect today.

In a Thursday statement, Atkins criticized the way the sheriff’s office must comply with House Bill 1310, which requires probable cause before any use of force.

“Our concern is that the new legislation will have some unintentional consequences that could put the public and police officers in jeopardy,” Atkins stated. “I expect that people could see a reduced police response and extended investigations as a result.”

In response to the “duty to leave the scene” clause of HB 1310, Atkins said people are likely to see less of deputies. If there is no crime or no “imminent” threat of harm, the sheriff said, a deputy must leave or could not respond at all. If deputies do respond, they risk being decertified.

That means deputies might not respond to calls about people experiencing mental health crises, runaways, evictions and other calls where no one is committing a crime, the statement said.

Atkins said deputies will respond to more calls by phone instead of showing up to the incident.

“We will continue to perform our duties with pride, courage and diligence, free of bias or discrimination — but our operational procedures must change, as dictated by the Legislature,” Atkins said. “We will continue to adjust our operational procedures in the weeks and months to come as we gain greater insight and understanding into the expectations of us from our community, the courts, the Legislature and our governmental business partners.”

On the web

The Vancouver Police Department created a webpage detailing its policy changes in response to the new laws. The summary can be found at www.cityofvancouver.us/police/page/2021-legislative-impacts-policing