State poised to pass compromise to police deadly force initiative
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.