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I-940 supporters deliver signatures to Sec. Of State's office.
Measure seeks changes in law that deals with police use of force in shootings

December 29, 2017

The De-Escalate Washington Campaign logo.
Chronicle staff

(OLYMPIA, WA.) -- Supporters of Initiative 940, that would make it easier for prosecutors to prosecute police who commit wrong doing in shootings, as well as require more mental-health and de-escalation training for Washington law enforcement officers turned in more than 350,000 signatures to Secretary of State's office on Thursday, far more than needed.

That means the bill goes on to the state legislature for the 2018 session. If legislators don’t approve I-940 during the 2018 session, the initiative will go before voters later in the year and if lawmakers should approve an amended version of the measure, both proposals would go to the ballot for voters to decide.

As the law stands now, a police officer can’t be convicted of a crime for using deadly force if he or she acted in what the law calls" good faith" and without malice, or what the law also refers to as “evil intent.”

However, that high a bar as a standard makes it virtually impossible for prosecutors to bring criminal charges if they do find an officer committed a wrongful killing, according to a 2015 report by The Seattle Times.

According to the group's website (http://www.deescalatewa.org/) the De-Escalate Washington Campaign is a coalition of individuals and organizations who believe that police should use deadly force only when unavoidable and as a last resort.

The Campaign believes that this state's laws, "Should reflect our values and the initiative puts into law the duty to preserve and protect life. The Coalition members believe that race and bias are a factor in policing and as a result people of color and marginalized people are disproportionately impacted by police violence. Initiative 940 puts a high priority on de-escalation as a strategy to reduce these violent interactions, it requires training for mental health, and requires the rendering of first aid."

The measure also requires completely independent investigations, mandates inclusion of tribal governments when tribal members are injured or killed, and includes a diverse community in the development of policy. And because, "No one is above the law, the Initiative removes the immunity from prosecution for unjustified use of deadly force and replaces it with a good faith standard."

Studies have shown that American law officers shoot and kill citizens at a much higher rate than any other modern nation.

Police in America kill more people in one month than police in the UK killed in entire 20th century

A report by thefreethoughtproject.com published in April of 2015 found that in just the 31 days of March of that year, police in the United States killed more people than the UK did in the entire 20th century. In fact, it was twice as many; police in the UK only killed 52 people during that 100 year period.

According to the report, in March alone, 111 people died during police encounters — 36 more than the previous month. As in the past, numerous incidents were spurred by violent threats from suspects, and two officers were shot in Ferguson during a peaceful protest. However, the deaths follow a national pattern: suspects were mostly people of color, mentally ill, or both.

This high number in March increased the average for police killings from every 8.5 hours, to nearly 1 police killing every 6.5 hours in the US.

In Canada, by contrast the total number of citizens killed by law enforcement officers in the year 2014, was 14, or 78 times fewer people than the US.

From 2010 through 2014, there were just four fatal police shootings in England, which has a population of about 52 million. By contrast, Albuquerque, N.M., with a population 1 percent the size of England’s, had 26 fatal police shootings in that same time period.

China, whose population is 4.5 times the size of the United States, recorded 12 killings by law enforcement officers in 2014. On average, US police kill people at a rate 70 times higher than any of the other first world countries



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