Washington’s Supreme Court Grants Sheriffs Unprecedented Authority to Use Tear Gas

The Supreme Court of Washington has recently made a surprising decision that deals a blow to police oversight. The decision grants sheriffs the constitutional right to use tear gas freely during what they deem to be “riots.” This decision has been met with concern from those who advocate for police accountability.

The recent Snaza v. State case ruling has caused a stir throughout the state, sparking worries about the extent of law enforcement power and the lack of police accountability.

Sheriffs’ Unprecedented Authority: An Alarming Development

Sheriff Robert Snaza of Lewis County led the Snaza decision, which challenged a law (RCW 10.116.030(3)) that restricted the use of tear gas by requiring sheriffs to first obtain authorization from county officials.

The sheriffs strongly opposed the State Legislature’s efforts to promote the responsible use of chemical weapons during riots, claiming that it would hinder their power.

The sheriffs have won a case in the Supreme Court as seeking permission for the use of tear gas was deemed to violate their core functions as stated in the state’s Constitution. This decision has been made clear by the Supreme Court after siding with the sheriffs.

Dissenting Voices: Reason vs. Unchecked Authority

Although the majority ruled in favor, a dissenting opinion raised concerns about the decision’s shortcomings, as stated in a compelling article by Law.com.

The report underscored the absence of clear guidelines on what constitutes “core functions” and stressed the importance of placing reasonable constraints on the authority of law enforcement.

The dissenting opinion also raised concerns about the vague term “riots,” which could potentially be exploited to oppress lawful demonstrations.

Implications for the Future of Washington: Why We Need to Stay Vigilant

The decision made in this ruling brings up important inquiries regarding the future of law enforcement in Washington.

The ruling may not have a direct impact on bigger cities and charter counties, but it sets an alarming precedent for smaller communities.

The immense authority bestowed upon sheriffs, particularly those with a history of controversy, raises concerns regarding the misuse of riot control methods such as tear gas.


As residents of Washington, we find ourselves at a crucial crossroads in defining the direction of our justice system. The upcoming elections for important judicial roles hold immense significance, as they will shape the state’s stance towards ensuring law enforcement accountability. It is up to us, the voters, to make informed decisions that will pave the way for a fair and just legal system.

In light of the ongoing conversations surrounding police reform, it is crucial for individuals to participate in the electoral process and use their voices to influence the creation of a fair and responsible legal system.

What Are Your Thoughts?

Let us know what you think by leaving your thoughts and ideas in the comments section below! We value your input and welcome any feedback you may have. So, feel free to share your opinions with us and join the conversation. We look forward to hearing from you!

Read More:

Avatar photo
MBS Staff
Articles: 7048

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *