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City of Tacoma’s Statement: State of Washington v. TPD Officers Burbank, Collins & Rankine

City of Tacoma’s Statement: State of Washington v. TPD Officers Burbank, Collins & Rankine

City of Tacoma’s Statement: State of Washington v. TPD Officers Burbank, Collins & Rankine

As the trial begins in the case of State of Washington v. Tacoma Police Officers Shane Burbank, Matthew Collins and Timothy Rankine, the City of Tacoma understands many members of the public have questions, opinions, and emotions surrounding this trial and public safety in our community. 


It is important to clarify that all matters regarding the trial itself are strictly the jurisdiction of Pierce County Superior Court – where the trial will be held - and the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, which is prosecuting this case. Tacoma’s Mayor, Council Members, and other City leaders and staff have no influence, input, or involvement when it comes to the court case and will not be providing comment about it throughout the trial’s duration.


Those who wish to follow the proceedings may do so through Pierce County’s livestream portal at: Trial Information | Pierce County, WA - Official Website (piercecountywa.gov).


The broader issue of creating a just and transparent model of public safety that reflects and aligns with our community is a priority for all City of Tacoma leaders, and there are many impactful initiatives the City and the Tacoma Police Department have implemented in recent years to improve public safety, to innovate and offer alternative responses to emergencies, and to build community trust in TPD, its officers, and the City overall. Some of those initiatives include:


  • An updated Use of Force policy which requires officers to intervene when they observe excessive use of force by another officer, bans chokeholds, requires de-escalation, bans shooting at moving vehicles, requires warning before shots are fired, and more  
  • Updated Body Worn Camera and In-Car Video Policies, which require officers to activate recording functions whenever they engage with the public. The Tacoma Police Department began camera installation earlier this month and is currently clarifying its policies surrounding the public release of videos and images
  • TPD’s development of a Community Service Officer program, which is a new non-commissioned public safety response for non-violent incidents
  • To strengthen relationships and ensure TPD’s operations are fair, the department is also currently updating its policies based on suggestions from a recent comprehensive assessment by an impartial third party and with the help of the Community’s Police Advisory Committee
  • Additionally, TPD continues to implement the recommendations from 21st Century Policing Solutions on how TPD can lead 21st Century Policing in Anti-Racism 
  • To increase transparency, the Tacoma Police Department will launch in October two public facing dashboards that will include regularly updated information regarding crime data and police accountability
  • TPD is piloting the collection of community demographic data relating to police encounters to support bias free policing
  • And currently under development - with public input - is the City’s Community Safety Action Plan


 The work to transform policing is not being accomplished by TPD alone. Tacoma’s Mayor and City Council Members have been active partners in reforming law enforcement state-wide by supporting recent state laws that:   


  • Established requirements for police tactics and equipment
  • Established the Office of Independent Investigations to investigate potential criminal conduct arising from police use of force 
  • Established a requirement for law enforcement officers to act with reasonable care when carrying out their duties, including using de-escalation tactics and alternatives to deadly force 
  • Defined the rights of juveniles, including guaranteed access to an attorney 
  • Authorized the Washington state auditor to conduct reviews of any deadly force investigation to determine whether the actions of the law enforcement agency, investigative body, and prosecutor’s office are compliant 
  • Enacted uniform standards for recording in-custody interviews 
  • And required law enforcement agencies to notify prosecutors about any misconduct that could cause an officer’s testimony to be doubted, and to verify that potential recruits are not on the local Brady list.  


The work of transforming public safety and aligning it with the community’s expectations won’t happen overnight. The City of Tacoma, across all elected leaders, staff, departments, and offices, is committed to this work but acknowledges the City cannot succeed without the help of community. It will take every one of us – law enforcement, government, schools, parents, non-profits and community groups, and individual community members – to get involved, communicate, and exchange ideas to help build and maintain a public safety model that is more just and transparent for all.