State poised to pass com­pro­mise to po­lice deadly force ini­tia­tive

Tri-City Herald - - News - BY JOSEPH O’SUL­LI­VAN AND STEVE MILETICH Seattle Times

With the pas­sage of the po­lice deadly force ini­tia­tive, state law­mak­ers stood poised Wed­nes­day to join sup­port­ers and op­po­nents of the mea­sure in mov­ing to en­act a com­pro­mise bill agree­able to all of them.

Vot­ers gave strong sup­port in Tues­day’s elec­tion to Ini­tia­tive 940, which re­moves lan­guage from state law that made it al­most im­pos­si­ble to pros- ecute law-en­force­ment of­fi­cers be­lieved to have mis­used deadly force. It also re­quires statewide train­ing of po­lice in deesca­la­tion tech­niques and deal­ing with peo­ple in cri­sis.

Leg­is­la­tors passed a com­pro­mise bill ear­lier this year, with the sup­port of I-940 pro­po­nents and some law-en­force­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions that had ob­jected to some of the ini­tia­tive’s word­ing. But the state Supreme Court ruled that the ini­tia­tive must be placed on the bal­lot be­fore it could be al­tered.

A trio of key law­mak­ers said Wed­nes­day they ex­pect the com­pro­mise mea­sure, House Bill 3003, to go for­ward in the 2019 leg­isla­tive ses­sion

Rep. Roger Good­man, D-Kirk­land, the chair of the House Pub­lic Safety Com­mit­tee, said two lawen­force­ment or­ga­ni­za­tions – the Fra­ter­nal Or­der of Po­lice and Wash­ing­ton Coun­cil of Po­lice and Sher­iffs – have reaf­firmed to him their sup­port for the com­pro­mise.

Both or­ga­ni­za­tions had en­gaged in what they called re­spect­ful op­po­si­tion to the bal­lot mea­sure, while pledg­ing to sup­port the bill what­ever the elec­tion’s out­come.

In a state­ment Wed­nes­day, Mon­isha Har­rell, co-chair of De-Es­ca­late Wash­ing­ton, the group that backed I-940, said, “We sup­ported House Bill 3003 be­cause the end re­sult en­sured all of the com­mon­sense re­forms in Ini­tia­tive 940 and did no harm to our pro­posal, and we main­tain sup­port of that work we did in good faith with our part­ners.”

Har­rell added: “We will con­tinue to sup­port pass­ing the ex­act con­tent of House Bill 3003 next ses­sion. It’s im­por­tant to rec­og­nize that last night Wash­ing­ton vot­ers said ‘yes’ to the pol­icy in 940 – ev­ery­one should be clear of that, and stand by its goal. We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing the work we started with our part­ners in law en­force­ment to build bridges be­tween law en­force­ment and the com­mu­ni­ties they serve, and im­ple­ment­ing the pol­icy that vot­ers de­ci­sively ap­proved.”

The ma­jor mod­i­fi­ca­tion would elim­i­nate I-940’s two-part test to de­ter­mine if an of­fi­cer acted in good faith when us­ing deadly force. One part re­quires proof that a rea­son­able of­fi­cer would have used deadly force in the same cir­cum­stances, while the other asks if the of­fi­cer “sin­cerely and in good faith be­lieved that the use of deadly force was war­ranted in the cir­cum­stance.”

The com­pro­mise bill sim­pli­fied the stan­dard, ask­ing pros­e­cu­tors only to ex­am­ine whether a rea­son­able of­fi­cer would have deemed deadly force nec­es­sary to pre­vent death or se­ri­ous phys­i­cal harm to po­lice or oth­ers if placed in the same sit­u­a­tion.

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