Imagine calling 9-1-1 for police or fire, or some other public safety need, but the responding officer cannot understand you very well,  because they don't speak English.

  Democrat-sponsored bill would remove the requirement to read, and speak English in WA

Among the several thousand pieces of legislation that were introduced during the 2023 state session (the last count we had was over 1,700 several weeks ago) Is Senate Bill (SB) 5274.  Jason Rantz of AM 770 KTTH shed some light on this one on Friday, March 24th.

The sponsor of the bill, Democrat Javier Valdez of Seattle, claims dropping the requirement to be able to speak and read English would entice a lot more minorities to apply for public safety jobs, such as police, fire, and others. It would apply to Sheriff's Departments as well as fish and wildlife officers.

No mention was made of what would be done to accommodate an applicant who cannot write or speak English.

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Rantz points out the obvious that this would create a public safety hazard. What if the officer cannot understand the victim or person they are trying to help? What about writing reports, responding to messages, or getting data on the onboard computers that we see in patrol cars? What about an EMS first responder?

If they cannot communicate with a struggling victim, who could be having a life-threatening issue, language should not be a barrier.

According to Rantz, Senate GOP Minority Leader John Braun responded to the bill this way (in part):

 “These are folks who are forced to deliver services to our citizens around the state. Certainly, if they’re bilingual, that’s actually valuable. Oftentimes, they’re paid more … but to think that you can somehow function and deliver services in our society without being able to read or write English, I think is, again, wrongheaded." (AM 770 KTTH Jason Rantz show).

Does this bill have any chance of actually moving on? According to Rantz, the Senate is "close to passing" this piece of legislation.

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