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De-Escalate Washington turns in I-940 signatures to push action on police use of force

The organizers of De-Escalate Washington supporting I-940 to provide law enforcement officers more training on de-escalating lethal situations while eliminating Washington’s so-called “malice standard” announced they would turn in some 355,000 signatures Thursday with hopes for the initiative to qualify for a place on a statewide ballot:

“Action on this issue is long overdue, and I give my heartfelt thanks to the hundreds of thousands of Washington voters who have sought action by signing petitions for I-940,” said Annalesa Thomas, the mother of Leonard Thomas who was killed by police in 2013. “Their engagement is providing healing and empowerment to the family members of loved ones whose lives were lost due to police violence.” To qualify I-940 for consideration during the 2018 state legislative session, De-Escalate Washington must submit 259,622 valid signatures. De-Escalate Washington intends to submit more than 355,000 signatures. Once the Secretary of State certifies a qualifying number of valid signatures, the initiative will be referred to the Washington Legislature for consideration during its 2018 session. If the legislature does not pass I-940, the measure will go onto the November 2018 general election ballot.

Meeting the December 29th goal for valid signatures will mean either the state legislature must move ahead on changing the laws or the proposals will go to the ballot in 2018.

CHS reported on the final push for signatures here.

I-940 would require and change a number of police practices and standards. It calls for police to have de-escalation, first aid, and mental health training. Officers must also provide first aid at the scene under certain circumstances. I-940 would establish a good faith standard for the use of deadly force and requires an independent investigation when it results in death or injury. Organizers hope to also change Washington’s 1986 law (RCW 9A.16.040) that says police cannot be criminally liable for employing deadly force if they did so without malice and with a good faith belief that such an act is justifiable.

De-Escalate WA says Mayor Jenny Durkan is among local officials who support the initiative. Seattle’s police union does not.

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