Preview Mode Links will not work in preview mode

Hacks & Wonks

Aug 18, 2021

Today Representative Debra Entenman (District 47) joins Crystal to discuss triumphs of police accountability legislation in the most recent legislative session, how much public safety work still needs to be done, and the strong and immediate need for privacy protections. Additionally, Rep. Entenman discusses how you can best support legislation to protect your communities and your privacy, and reminds you to get your Covid vaccine, because “the Delta variant is not playing!”

As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at

Find the host, Crystal Fincher on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today’s guest, Representative Debra Entenman at @DebraEntenman. More info is available at



“Bill to create civilian office to investigate lethal force, serious injuries by police advances in Washington Legislature” by Maya Lesikar from The Seattle Times: 

“New Law Demands De-escalation, Not Abandoning People in Crisis” by Kim Mosolf from Disability Rights Washington and Enoka Herat from ACLU-WA: 

“Washington Legislature bans police chokeholds and neck restraints and sets limits on tear gas and use of force” by Joseph O’Sullivan from The Seattle Times: 

“What new WA police accountability laws do and don’t do” by Melissa Santos from Crosscut: 

“‘The Computer Got It Wrong’: How Facial Recognition Led To False Arrest of Black Man” by Bobby Allyn from NPR: 

“The WIRED Guide to Your Personal Data (and Who Is Using It)” by Louise Matsakis from WIRED: 

“Google Says It Doesn’t ‘Sell’ Your Data. Here’s How the Company Shares, Monetizes, and Exploits It.” by Bennett Cyphers from the Electronic Frontiers Foundation: 

“King County rent relief still slow to reach tenants” by David Kroman from Crosscut: 



[00:00:00] Crystal Fincher: Welcome to Hacks & Wonks. I'm your host, Crystal Fincher. On this show, we talk to political hacks and policy wonks to gather insight into local politics and policy through the lens of those doing the work and provide behind-the-scenes perspectives on politics in our state. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at and in our episode notes.

Well today, I am thrilled to have with us the esteemed and fabulous representative from the 47th District, Representative Debra Entenman. Thank you so much for joining the podcast today.

[00:01:06] Representative Debra Entenman: Thank you very much for that kind and generous introduction. I am looking forward to this discussion.

[00:01:13] Crystal Fincher: Well, I'm definitely looking forward to this - as someone who lives in the South End and is a neighbor to your district and get to see the work that you do - see you in the community, see you in meetings - you are quite busy and quite active, which I definitely appreciate. I wanted to talk about what you've been working on, what you're going to be working on - particularly coming out of this past legislative session - one of the headlines from the session was working on police accountability and some reform bills, which you definitely took leadership on. And so, what were you able to work on and accomplish when it comes to policing and public safety?

[00:02:03] Representative Debra Entenman: Well, what I was able to work on - and I have to say it was governor-request legislation. There was a task force that the governor put together because of the unfortunate death of Manuel Ellis - from that, there were recommendations that were made. Many of these people had come together in the past, working on [I-9]40 and had done other work around police accountability. So first of all, I want to give thanks to those people who came together with recommendations. Then working with staff, we created legislation around an independent investigative body, funding in the governor's budget. And so, we were able to pass legislation to create an independent investigative body, which will be under the auspice of the Attorney General's Office, but there will be a firewall. And there will be a firewall because people were concerned that if the Attorney General had to work with the Washington State Patrol, and he works with them on some of the issues, that there may be a conflict of interest.

We hope with the implementation of this legislation that passed this last session, we will not have any conflicts and I look forward to having the teams put together, the director hired, and we can start working on independent investigations in Washington State. Also, a bill for independent prosecutions that was heard at the very end of session, too late to be voted on out of committee, but it was heard in committee. And I'm really hoping to bring that bill back. I have been working since the interim - meeting with community members, members of the Coalition for Police Accountability, and police officers representing the Fraternal Order of Police on what they'd like to see changed in the proposed prosecution bill. So we are now having discussions on that and we hope for a positive outcome in the next legislative session.

What I want people to understand about police accountability is that we started last session. It was just the beginning - continuous and more work to do. I know that there has been some pushback on the two pieces of legislation that were passed, which is 1310 and 1054. 1310 is about intervention when someone is in a behavioral health crisis and 1054 is about tactics that the police may use or are no longer allowed to use. And so there has been some serious discussion. We had a wonderful - that many people saw from the Attorney General and Representative Jesse Johnson that talked about the misinformation that was being spread by different police departments. I'm hoping that we have a handle on that now. I have been reaching out to the local police departments in my community, specifically the police chief in Kent, Chief Padilla, who was quoted as saying in the Associated Press that the bills were poorly written and other things. We know that we talked to seven different guilds and organizations that represent police. They weighed in on the legislations. We of course have an excellent legal team and although I know that they are not perfect, I do not believe the bills were poorly written.

[00:06:07] Crystal Fincher: And they certainly do not appear to be poorly written. They also were not a surprise. There was plenty of opportunity for input. There was a lot of collaboration. There was concern that there might have been too much collaboration even throughout parts of the process.

[00:06:24] Representative Debra Entenman: That's right.

[00:06:25] Crystal Fincher: Because so many people from the law enforcement community were at the table and being heard and submitting feedback and suggested edits to this process. But it's not unusual to, as we've seen in a lot of different areas throughout the state, even here in King County, to see a pushback now to any change - which is different. It seems that there's been a circling of the wagons, because if you go back 5 years ago, 10 years ago, a number of the things that you're talking about and that you passed were not controversial in law enforcement circles.

I remember going to a number of meetings - you brought up Chief Padilla, who is the City of Kent's police chief - to Kent Police Department community meetings and them talking about they're not social workers, they're not equipped to handle those kinds of issues and problems - and they're more systemic, and the tools that they have to address that are inadequate to fix the issues that are creating that problem. That came from them before. And so, to hear the change in - certainly in tone and substance - is curious now that those things are actually being put into place. It sounds like there's a lot of fear of change. It sounds like they are feeling like this is just an attack instead of an opportunity to help them focus on the things that actually make people safer, and that the community who they serve and work alongside are saying, "You know what? These are the things that make us safer."

So I appreciate you for listening to so many people throughout the crafting of these bills. I think next week, there's going to be a town hall in Kent to talk about this and certainly the chief has indicated that he has issues with the legislation, but these are things that are largely uncontroversial that have been passed in several areas throughout the country. And that seem, like you said, it's the start and certainly not the end of the road. These are kind of the lowest hanging fruit where there was fairly broad consensus that this was necessary. Really I just think-

[00:09:01] Representative Debra Entenman: I think the shot over the bow by some people representing law enforcement was to see how strong coalitions would come together and resist their narrative on what this legislation would do. The fact that we have been able to build coalitions, not only in Western Washington, but Eastern Washington to push back on the narrative from the police department has been - well, for me, it has been a joy. But it has also opened people's eyes, because there were many people in community who thought that many of the things that we implemented - like you had said - in this last legislative session were already in place and they were not.

We also have been - I know that I personally am not anti police person as much as I am a pro public safety person. And that means not only public safety for community, but public safety for the police as well. You need to have a clear demarcation on what you can and cannot do - so that we know what you can do and so that you know what you can't do. And I think that we need to be able to look at the profession of policing and improve it. There is more work to do. I think we need to raise the age of a person who is in a police department or the Washington State Patrol. I think they need to have more education and training. I'd like them to come in with at least an AA, more points even for a BA. I'm also concerned that we have through what I think was an honorable thing to do, which is to try to hire veterans - we have moved to the point where we have militarized our police. When you are in the military police, your actions and your responsibilities are different than when you're in a civilian police department. I don't think we have done a good enough job in making police officers understand that they are in a civilian police department.

[00:11:12] Crystal Fincher: Yeah, that's-

[00:11:13] Representative Debra Entenman: So all of these things are - there's still work to be done and I am very proud of everyone on our team. It was not always easy work to do, but we have all tried our best and there's more legislation to come. I want to talk about Representative Thai's bill that didn't make it out of [inaudible] to be heard in committee. I want to bring back the bill talking about limiting the immunity for police officers. Senator Solomon also had a bill and I honestly say I like some of it, some of it I didn't like, but I think that we can come together and have something strong that comes out around immunity. I think that police officers have a responsibility because they have the ability to take someone's life and in our legal justice system, I don't think a person should be shot just because they encountered the police. There is no justice when you don't get to go to court and have your voice heard. I do believe a person is innocent until proven guilty and I don't think we should have extra-judicial killings in the United States of America.

[00:12:25] Crystal Fincher: Well, I wholeheartedly agree and it's such an important issue - and to your point, they have such an incredible responsibility. They directly impact people's civil rights and a lot of times the conversation, because we see it too often, is about killings. But my goodness, just the ability to arrest someone if you're in a bad mood or you have a bad day. And just what is involved with someone having to defend themselves - sometimes they may have to sit in jail if they can't afford to bail themselves out of jail or they don't have resources or connections to do that. There's just so much involved with that, that it does make plain sense to make sure that we're holding people to a high standard as we do in so many other professions who don't have the freedom and flexibility to impact the civil rights and the freedom and the future, really the future of so many people in their community.

So I appreciate the work that you continue to do. One question I always want to make sure we ask is - with work that's important and you're pushing hard within the legislative process, what can people in the community do who want to see this happen and who want to support the bills you're working on? What can they do to help?

[00:13:53] Representative Debra Entenman: I think one of the things that they can do is to continue to hold elected officials' feet to the fire. So now that we've passed these bills, I need them to start asking about implementation. I need them to start trying to get on the committees where these implementations - if there's community input, I need them to participate in that. COVID brought us many things, but it did bring us one thing, which was the increase in participation by people who cannot get to Olympia because we were able to use Zoom. I want us to continue to use Zoom as a tool to hear as many voices as we can. We had record participation in our committees around testimony on these particular police bills and it was amazing to me. And to go back now - because see, once you put your testimony on the record, I as a legislator can go back and listen later, hear things differently. And I think it's really important for that to happen, and I want to continue to be able to have remote testimony, even as we make it through this COVID pandemic.

I think that what also is important is for people to get involved with their local law enforcement. We should have relationships with law enforcement before an emergency happens, and I know that for some people, this is very difficult and challenging. But if we can, I'd like us to, and my thing is - don't go alone. If you think you need somebody with you, have a buddy, make a buddy system and say, "We're going to go to these City Council meetings and then we're going to listen to the testimony. We're going to go to when the police chief invites us to community events, we're going to listen. We might not always agree with them, but we're going to sign our name on the dotted line and turn out so that they will know that community members were there because the word that we always hear is that, Oh, those people were troublemakers and they were coming from Seattle. Those people aren't the true voices of Kent.

So what I really want people to do is to step up, sign up - even if you sign up and give your name and address and say thank you for having this meeting, I think it's an important community meeting, I might not always agree with what you say, but to have the opportunity to hear you is important. If you do just that, I think it will help to make our community stronger. We can't just believe that electing people to office is enough. There is some responsibility that we all have for participation. So wherever you are, however you can, it is important for you to think about these pieces of legislation and work with your local police department, city council, and mayor, and the legislature to make sure these are implemented. And keep asking questions, keep asking questions - hold our feet to the fire.

[00:17:07] Crystal Fincher: Keep asking questions. Yes.

[00:17:08] Representative Debra Entenman: Keep asking questions.

[00:17:09] Crystal Fincher: You know what I love? I love an elected official who asks people to hold their feet to the fire. I love that. Especially you in your position and pushing to make sure that we're all safer - doesn't necessarily come without any risk to you. I don't know how many people listening are familiar with the 47th Legislative District, but that is absolutely a purple, if not reddish-leaning district. And we'll see what it looks like after the redistricting process, but this is not a district that is safe for Democrats. This is not district that elects Democrats to local government positions. You are in the midst of a lot of red territory in Covington and Maple Valley. It's a lot there, so you are certainly not satisfied with just playing it safe and saying things that are safe to everyone. While at the same time, you're listening to people in the community and you're taking a common sense, collaborative approach to addressing these issues - but it doesn't come without pushback. I do definitely encourage people who are passionate about police reform, about supporting someone who is pushing for things to be better, to make sure that you're familiar with Representative Entenman in the 47th Legislative District, that you support, because this is how we keep good people in office and this is how we get some of the great policies, like the ones that she just talked about, passed.

I also want to talk about another issue in the public safety sphere and that's privacy. I don't know if people know your background and that you are an expert in the area of privacy, but I just want you to talk a little bit about your background, why this issue is important, and what you've worked on.

[00:19:15] Representative Debra Entenman: Well, first, I want to say thank you for the compliment of saying that I'm an expert. I think that I have always been a very curious person. And when, in the Legislature, we started talking about privacy and the lack of privacy, specifically around the Department of Licensing - it was very eye-opening for me to learn how much information was given to law enforcement, how much information was shared with law enforcement, and how many people had access to the information. Some of them had access to the information and I was concerned about the safeguards that were put in place, especially around entities that are contracted to work with the Department of Licensing to issue license tabs, so we had sub-agents. How much information do they have? How much information do they have access to? What's the accountability measures that we put in place for them? That's where this all started for me - was around privacy.

And then of course we had a bill in 20... - well, we've been trying to pass a privacy bill even since before I got to the legislation - it's been very challenging. So we decided in 2018, 2019 to sever the facial recognition apart from the privacy bill. And so, I worked with Senator Nguyen in the Senate, and we had come to an agreement on a privacy bill - was very successful - it was new, it was innovative in the fact that we were one of the few states to actually regulate the use of facial recognition software, because there were many things that people were saying about facial recognition that just weren't true. We wanted to make sure that we had some level of privacy protection and that a person who was just generally walking about - this is how I always say it - when I am in a public space, I have not given up my right to privacy. If I'm at the mall, I have not given up my right to privacy. So what do we need to do to protect my privacy? Well, I have to say, just a little COVID sidebar, but us wearing mask does protect our privacy. It's really hard for the computer to tell who we are when we're wearing those masks. I'm not mad about that - I'm just going to say.

But we had facial recognition that - we had entities who were creating it, telling us that they couldn't see Black women. They couldn't tell the difference between a Black woman and a Black man, that it was identifying African-American people who were well-known figures, comparing them with people who had been arrested and had arrest records. It was flawed and we needed to have work done.

Now, there is still a lot to do. I want to make sure people understand this. We have passed a facial recognition bill, but we still have a long way to go around privacy. We have a long way to go around the use of social media in our regular lives. I'm not talking about things we don't do. Most of us are on Facebook, we use Amazon - I know the young babies are on TikTok - I'm not there yet, I'm on the Instagram, and I don't know if Snapchat's still a thing, I'm not sure, but what people need to understand about these things is that you don't get something for nothing. You have to ask yourself, if I'm using this and I'm having fun, what is happening on the back end? What information are they finding out about me and how are they using that information? If they're monetizing that information - because I had a person pound on the desk and tell me we don't sell your information, we monetize it. And I said, "Well, what's the difference if you're making money and I'm not?" And I didn't get a clear answer to that - but you, at least to me, need to know that when you go on to these platforms, the information that even though they keep on saying it's anonymous and they can't be sent back to you, it can't get back to you directly - that's not true. We all know that they have a profile on all of us. They monetize that profile and that is how they are billionaires.

If you are doing that, I should be able to say, "I don't want you to do that with me - with my image, with the way I look, with my name, with my age, with my weight, whatever it is." And so, what we are trying to do now in the privacy sphere, is say whose information is it and what can be done with it? And that has been a very challenging thing, because there are a lot of people who have made a lot of money off of us and don't want to give up that access.

[00:24:37] Crystal Fincher: And that's really the bottom line. I don't know that a lot of - so easy not to have to think about this. These companies who are monetizing, selling this information, make it very easy for us not to have to think about anything other than the immediate task that we're doing or whatever we're looking at. But my goodness, you brought up anonymous information. There was a couple of weeks ago, a recent case where a priest was outed - an example of information that they say, "Oh, this is not tied to your identity. We collect information, but it's not tied to you personally. It's just analytics and data that we're using to do stuff." Well, when you have a lot of data points and most of us carry mobile phones and it is giving away our location, it is giving away where we're shopping. If you have a rewards card, that's tracked. If you're going from home to work, that's tracked - your location data is tracked and sold. So you can take these anonymous pieces of data - and if you know where someone works, you can say, Okay, well, what phone IDs are pinging from this location? What phone IDs are pinging from that location? What did this person attach to this rewards card by? And all of that information can be tied back to your identity because there's enough independently verifiable data that only ties back to you.

And I don't know if people engage with how much that data is and how accessible it is to people. I can buy that data if I want to. That data is commercially available to a lot of different people. It is for sale to whoever wants to buy it. And so, you engaging with this is really meaningful, because we are - I don't know if we're at or past a tipping point, but the amount of data that people have on us that is not anonymous if they don't want it to be is alarming. I think most people would not want to wear a T-shirt that has all their personal details and information for everyone to consume, but we're doing the equivalent of that with privacy. So I appreciate you engaging in this issue and encourage people to support that bill and make their voices heard on those issues. I do want to talk in the few minutes - oh, go ahead.

[00:27:14] Representative Debra Entenman: No, I just wanted to say, this is the thing that made me understand it. What I learned was - and we kept on using the term of the dry cleaner - right now, we think of our dry cleaner as just a dry cleaner. We take in our dirty clothes and we get back our clean clothes, but what we don't always know is that the dry cleaner can decide that the dry cleaner wants to be a part of the business of providing information. So the dry cleaner can have a percentage of his business come from dry cleaning, but have another percentage of his business coming from monetizing data. Now, most of us are thinking about the dry cleaner and thinking, Well, I don't really want my dry cleaner monetizing my data. It's the same with Facebook. That's how you have to think about it. If you don't want your dry cleaner monetizing your data, why do you want Facebook monetizing your data?

Facebook, to me, is supposed to be for entertainment and I can be on it or I can be off of it. If you want me to pay for Facebook, then tell me that you want me to pay for Facebook. If you want to charge me a fee, I can decide whether or not I want to be on Facebook or not. If you're making money off of me on Facebook, then why can't I either have some of that money, or you stop making money. Those are the questions.

[00:28:32] Crystal Fincher: They're your details, it's your data.

[00:28:35] Representative Debra Entenman: It's your data. Those are the questions that we should be asking everywhere we go, anywhere we are. But go ahead - I'm sorry, Crystal, I didn't mean to interrupt.

[00:28:46] Crystal Fincher: No problem. Look, we are here to hear from you. I wanted to just talk a little bit about us - we're still dealing with this pandemic that seems - I don't know if the light at the end of the tunnel is actually an oncoming train or not, if we're dealing with this Delta variant and cases are spiking. We've got an eviction moratorium that's going to be sunsetting. There is rent relief for renters and landlords that has been allocated to counties and localities, but man, that's having a tough time getting dispersed and distributed. What can be done?

[00:29:28] Representative Debra Entenman: Let me tell you about some of the problems with - first of all, you need to understand how the distribution system is supposed to work. And everybody right now seems to be blaming it on how it's getting distributed, but not really on some of the people who are putting roadblocks. Some of the people are landlords and I'll tell you why. Let's have the scenario - you are the landlord and I am the tenant. We both go for relief. You as the landlord have to commit to not evicting me if you take the landlord relief dollars. And I as a tenant have to commit to making sure that if I take money to pay my back rent, that I pay my back rent. Most tenants are willing to have that money passed through them and go to the landlord, but some landlords don't want to make the commitment that they won't evict the tenant after they take the money to help them - because they not only want to be able to get their back rent, they want to be able to evict the tenant so they can turn over that apartment, raise the rent, and get first and last months from another person. So it isn't that the money is going out slowly. In some cases - is that the landlord that's not wanting to commit to the agreement. I want people to understand this. It's not necessarily about the money getting out, it's about the landlord not wanting to commit to the agreement so that he or she can receive funds.

[00:31:07] Crystal Fincher: So what can be done? Is there anything that can be done about that or is that just something that we have to shine a light on?

[00:31:13] Representative Debra Entenman: I think that more people need to talk about it. More people need to talk about it. If you are a tenant and you are willing to participate in this entity so that your back rent can be paid, and you have a landlord who doesn't want to participate - as we would say in the community, that landlord needs to be put on blast. That's the bottom line. Let's get Jesse - let's focus, let's call attention to landlords who don't want to participate in the process because they want to be able to kick off a tenant. You can't do both.

[00:31:58] Crystal Fincher: Can't do both.

[00:31:59] Representative Debra Entenman: You have to keep the tenant in the apartment if you're going to take the federal dollars so that you can be made whole. And there is - right now, we are not asking for any deductions or any reductions. Whatever the tenant owes is what the federal government is willing to pay. So if people are saying, "They're only offering me such and such," - to my knowledge, that is not true. The rent that they are offering to pay you is what the rent that you charge the tenant. Let's make sure that we are honest about the money and how it's going out.

Now, we do have systems that are always slow because they're government systems, and we do want to prevent fraud. We've already seen fraud in the unemployment system - we do not want to have fraud in the system where we are paying landlords for back rent. We don't need to have that scandal. We just don't need to have that scandal. If landlords and tenants agree to go together - there are some community-based organizations - where they come to the community-based organization, they make an agreement, they sign the papers and within a certain amount of time, they receive their checks.

[00:33:14] Crystal Fincher: I will certainly do some digging.

[00:33:16] Representative Debra Entenman: But it's not all, it's not - and we also have to remember now that there really are small landlords, but there are now people who are investing in multifamily homes that are hedge funds. They are not individual mom and pop landlords. We hear about these mom and pop landlords. And I do have sympathy because I have family members who have been able to save up enough money so they have a small house that they rent out. They're not getting wealthy. It's a part of their retirement plan. And they have been very good to their tenants and not kicked them out, and they would like to participate. And so, they are signing up and doing all of the things that they're supposed to do so that they can prove that there was back rent, that they had a rental agreement, and that the tenant wasn't able to pay. It does take time to do all of that, but there are some people who truly are - it's going to be a very large wealth transfer from the federal government to some private entity and I don't think that that's fair.

[00:34:26] Crystal Fincher: No. And unfortunately, we see in crisis after crisis and emergency after emergency that wealth transfer take place. We did in the last great recession. We certainly have during this pandemic - the amount that the richest billionaires have grown their fortunes is just staggering, just absolutely staggering. So we will continue to keep an eye on that. We will try and do our part to put landlords on blast who are being a hindrance to people just attempting to stay in their homes.

And I just appreciate you and the work that you do and encourage people to stay in contact with Representative Entenman, stay up to date with what she is doing, and make sure that you support - because particularly in districts like the 47th Legislative District, which is a toss up every time there's an election there, you never know what's going to happen - if it's going to go red or blue.

[00:35:31] Representative Debra Entenman: Yes, it is

[00:35:31] Crystal Fincher: it is always a battle that - and once again, next year, you're up for election again, several other people are up for election. The Senator's seat is up for election, so we will make sure that we stay up to date, but appreciate the work that you do and thank you for joining us today.

[00:35:54] Representative Debra Entenman: Well, thank you for having me. I want to say that - one, I appreciate your voice in this space. I appreciate the voice of an African-American woman having a podcast and inviting me to participate. For many who don't know, I very seldom get to speak with an African-American person who is interviewing me on a podcast. And I have to say that I'm very proud of Crystal. And so, it is always an honor when she asks me to do something. Thank you very much, I appreciate the work that you do. Please continue to blaze trails yourself because you are also a trailblazer.

And for those who are listening, the Delta variant is not playing, the racial reckoning in this country is not over - it was only the beginning. COVID is not over, it was only the beginning. So please take care of yourselves. There is a lot of work that we want you to be here to do and if you have not gotten vaccinated, please get vaccinated if not for yourself, for the other people who you care about and who care about you. And just remember, as our children are going to go back to school, the more people who are vaccinated, the less likely they are to get sick. As we look at COVID, it is now starting to strike younger people, children. I do not want to lose a generation of babies because we were stubborn and wanted to hold onto our ignorance and fear. Please get vaccinated for the children.

[00:37:42] Crystal Fincher: Amen. Thank you and thank everybody for joining us today. We'll talk to you next time.

Thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks. Our chief audio engineer at KVRU is Maurice Jones, Jr. The producer of Hacks & Wonks is Lisl Stadler. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I, and now you can follow Hacks & Wonks on iTunes, Spotify or wherever else you get your podcasts. Just type in "Hacks & Wonks" into the search bar, be sure to subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our mid-week show delivered to your podcast feed. You can also get a full text transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced during the show at and in the podcast episode notes.

Thanks for tuning in. Talk to you next time.