Endorsement – I-940 “De-Escalate Washington” Initiative

The 31st District Democrats have endorsed I-940: “De-Escalate Washington”.

Following is the request provided to the 31st District Democrats:

You can find petitions to sign with your own Democratic Precinct Officer and with signature gathers in public places. Here is why you should sign:

If enough people sign, the State Legislature will consider a new law making policing less violent and biased, and more just and our communities safer.

Law enforcement officers play a unique role in our communities. As officers, they have duties related to keeping the peace and public safety. Frequently officers are the first responders for situations involving people in crisis. Most police work is routine and does not require any use of force. However, when force is used, it is disproportionately used on people of color. In Washington, Native Americans and Black people experience use of force by officers at higher rates than any other racial or ethnic group.

Like the rest of the country, marginalized communities are impacted by officer use of force, a fact that has become more visible with increased coverage of officer-involved shootings. One-fourth of deadly force incidents involve an individual with a mental health concern. People experiencing homelessness, people with disabilities and members of the LGBTQ community are also over represented in use of force statistics. Over the last decade Washington has seen many incidents of unnecessary use of deadly force by officers, yet because our state law has a “de facto immunity” there has been no accountability. As of mid-October of this year, 33 people have been killed by police in Washington. By the end of 2016, according to “Killedbypolice.net” there were 29 people killed by police in Washington State.

I-940 focuses on training and accountability by:

  • Requiring training for violence de-escalation, mental health, and first aid for all officers in Washington State.
  • Requiring that police must render first aid at the scene.
  • Eliminating the malicious intent standard and defining the good faith requirement.
  • Requiring completely independent investigations when officers use deadly force when there is injury or death.
  • Bringing diverse community stakeholders to the table for the development of standards and curriculum.
  • Including Tribal governments in investigations where a tribal person was injured or killed.

Where can I get more information?

Look on our website at http://www.deescalatewa.org to read a full text of the initiative, to access an FAQ, sign up for email updates, and to volunteer.

DE-ESCALATE WASHINGTON – OUR VALUES

We believe training works. Law enforcement should be properly and thoroughly trained so that police have the skills to keep themselves and the public safe.

We believe police should use deadly force only when unavoidable and as the last resort.

Violence de-escalation training reduces the use of deadly force.

Mental health training provides skills and knowledge so that law enforcement can respectfully interact and protect persons with mental health issues or emergencies.

We believe that race and bias are factors in police responses, and that there is a disproportionate impact on people of color especially the Native American and Black communities, as well as persons with disabilities, the LGBTQ community, and others.

We believe police have a duty to preserve life and should provide first aid at the scene.

We believe no one is above the law, and police should be held criminally liable when their use of deadly force is not in good faith.

We believe transparency and trust is important to maintain a professional and respected police force. Investigations of police should be independent so the public has faith in the review and the results.

We recognize that Native Americans experience violence from law enforcement at rates higher than other groups. Tribal governments should be included in investigations when tribal members are the victims of police violence.

We believe that the public has a legitimate role in police accountability. Diverse community stakeholders should be involved in setting the standards for this work.