OLYMPIA — Washington state moved a step closer Thursday to outfitting its corrections officers with special body alarms, panic buttons on radios and pepper spray to help make their jobs safer inside state prisons.
Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a new law pursuing those changes and other recommendations made by a federal review panel following the January murder of Monroe corrections officer Jayme Biendl.
The new law requires the Department of Corrections form a committee to examine security issues at each correctional facility and, by Nov. 1, recommend needed changes to the governor and state lawmakers.
Also by that date, the department is to deliver studies on the feasibility of equipping some officers with body alarms and allowing others to carry pepper spray as a security measure.
The department must also determine if additional video monitoring cameras should be installed and more officers hired to boost safety in some facilities.
The proposed budgets of the House and Senate each contain $6 million toward making the improvements.
“I think it is a legacy much deserved to our fallen officer in which we’re saying to her we are going to do everything we can to make sure what happened to her doesn’t happen to anybody else,” Gregoire said after signing Senate Bill 5907.
Jerry Cornfield: 360-352-8623; email@example.com.
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