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De-Escalate Washington declares victory on police use of force reforms

A November rally for De-Escalate Washington (Image: CHS)

Backers of an initiative to change Washington’s standard for police deadly force are declaring victory after a compromise bill passed the legislature Thursday in the final hours of this year’s session in Olympia.

“These reforms will result in a reduction in violence, fewer injuries and deaths, increase in respect and trust, and improved relationships,” the announcement from De-Escalate Washington reads.

Governor Jay Inslee has already signed the bill into law.

The compromise legislation addresses Washington’s so-called “malice standard” in which police shootings have been ruled justified if officers were acting in “good faith” and “without malice.”

The new law set to go into effect in 2019 calls for police to have de-escalation, first aid and mental health training and officers must also provide first aid at the scene under certain circumstances. It also shifts to a good faith standard for the use of deadly force and requires independent investigation when it results in death or injury.

The group had gathered the necessary signatures after a campaign to raise awareness of the reforms. CHS spoke to family members of people killed by police about the reforms here in November. The Puget Sound region witnessed several police killings in recent years including Renee Davis October 21, 2016, Jacqueline Salyers on January 28th, Daniel Covarrubias in April, Tommy LeJune 13th, Charleena Lyles June 18th, Giovonn Joseph-McDade June 24th. All were people of color. “What else did we think would come with this when the police are investigating themselves,” Katrina Johnson, Lyles’ cousin, said in November. “They keep killing people and getting away with it.”

De-Escalate Washington says a willingness to compromise was key to the new law.

“To move forward, De-Escalate Washington leadership and law enforcement sat down to hear each other and listen,” the group’s announcement reads. “The process brought the parties together and paved the way for collaboration and an agreement on I-940.”


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