The Bainbridge Island/North Kitsap Interfaith Council hosted Bill and Joyce Ostling, whose 43-year-old son died at the hands of Bainbridge Police officers, along with Lieutenant Phil Hawkins of the department.
The meeting, in September 2013, came three years after the confrontation that ended their son’s life and midway through the Ostling’s efforts to press the Washington state Legislature to require better training of the police departments in working with the mentally ill.
The Ostlings shared a frustration and anger unchanged by the intervening years, describing how their efforts to intervene were rebuffed by officers that night and detailing how they were forced to stay in their home while the officers and their son, Doug, clashed in his apartment – mere steps away in an apartment above the family’s garage.
After the Ostlings described how events unfolded that night, and the confusion and distance they felt from many—not all—of Island residents after the tragedy, Lt. Hawkins spoke of the remorse he felt on behalf of the police department.
The Ostlings, who pressed a federal lawsuit in the case an received a $1 million settlement, described how they then turned to legislation that would require police departments across the state—large and small—to train officers in how to intervene in crises without escalating them.
Bill and Joyce asked the Bainbridge Island/North Kitsap Interfaith Council members to write letters in support of their legislation, which had passed but without necessary funding.
In 2015—two years later—Gov. Jay Inslee would eventually sign the bill into law, then known as the Douglas M. Ostling Act (link here).
Photo by Tad Souter for the Kitsap Sun