De-Escalate Washington is using deceptive tactics to gather signatures for Initiative 940, of which the purported intent is to reduce violence in communities. The Washington State Fraternal Order of Police and WACOPS emphatically opposes this initiative. I-940 is redundant of already established laws and destructive to the Law Enforcement community.
The initiative campaign attempting to change Washington state's deadly force law, to make it easier to hold police accountable for fatal shootings, has met a signature milestone.
Supporters of De-Escalate Washington say they'll now take the 280,000 signatures collected to the Secretary of State's office with the hopes of putting Initiative 940 on the 2018 ballot, or into the next legislative session.
De-Escalate Washington says:
“This measure would require all law enforcement officers in the state to receive violence de-escalation and mental health training, as developed by the criminal justice training commission. It would require law enforcement personnel to provide first-aid to save lives and require law enforcement agencies to adopt guidelines for implementing this duty. It would amend the standard for justifiable use of deadly force by law enforcement, including adding a “good faith” standard and requiring independent investigation.”
The Washington State Fraternal Order of Police and WACOPS does not support this initiative as the intent is not to make communities safer, but to make it easier to prosecute police officers who unfortunately find themselves having to use deadly force. We recognize that is an emotional issue for both sides. This initiative was created in response to a perceived problem with police use of deadly force. We and other law enforcement groups know there is no mechanism to collect the proper data, so it is not known if the problem truly exists as purported by De-Escalate Washington.
The Washington State Fraternal Order of Police supports the establishment and funding of data collection to be able to objectively identify any and all issues that exist. Initiative 940 does not address the most prevalent factors in almost all use of deadly force encounters; mental health issues and the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Mental health concerns should be a priority of any effort to reduce violent interactions in our community.
Current Washington State Law Enforcement Officers are already mandated by law and accreditation standards to receive de-escalation and mental health training. The Doug Ostling Act, established requirements for Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) for all Peace Officers in Washington. The three main requirements are:
All BLEA recruits must receive 8 hours of CIT training (This is already happening at CJTC)
All full-time, general authority peace officers must have a minimum of 8-hours of CIT training by 2021.
All full-time, general authority peace officers must receive at least 2 hours of refresher training each year beginning in July 2017.
The Act further recommended the attendance of the 40-hour CIT class by 25% of all certified peace officers assigned to patrol duties. This training is already available; provided by the Criminal Justice Training Commission. A large number of agencies are already mandating that officers attend the 40 hour CIT training. I-940 addresses an already existing mandate.
First Aid training and the providing aid to the community is also a mandate that already exists. All Law Enforcement officers have a sworn obligation to help our communities, to include providing aid when it is necessary and safe to do so. I-940 addresses an already existing mandate.
The Washington State Fraternal Order of Police supports the development of the highest trained, most professional Law Enforcement Officers possible. We support any training to help our members better protect our communities. The initiative does not provide any training that is not currently provided and mandated.
The men and women across Washington State who put their own lives on the line to protect our communities are sometimes faced with split second decisions regarding the use of deadly force to protect themselves and the community. De-Escalate Washington seeks to re-define the standards by which these cases are evaluated for criminal prosecution; making easier to achieve their goal – to put cops in jail. Current Washington Statute 9A.16.040 (3) states; “A public officer or peace officer shall not be held criminally liable for using deadly force without malice and with a good faith belief that such act is justifiable.” The law further states “The legislature recognizes that RCW 9A.16.040 establishes a dual standard with respect to the use of deadly force by peace officers and private citizens, and further recognizes that private citizens' permissible use of deadly force under the authority of RCW 9.01.200, 9A.16.020, or 9A.16.050 is not restricted and remains broader than the limitations imposed on peace officers." Supporters of I-940 wish to change the existing restrictive law to make it easier to prosecute cops.
The Washington State Fraternal Order of Police works to protect those that protect you. We oppose Initiative I-940 and view it as an attack on those who risk their lives to provide safe, secure communities. Despite what signature gatherers may claim, this initiative does not work to reduce violence in our communities and is not supported by the law enforcement community. Initiative 940 is Bad for Public Safety.