Last week, the Legislature approved tweaks to Initiative 940, the police accountability measure voters approved last fall. Here are some of lawmakers' comments about why the changes were important.
Initiative 940 won at the polls last November. But that’s not where the police-accountability law’s story started — or ended.
Months before, I-940’s sponsors reached a deal with police groups to change some of the initiative’s language. The compromise still would have made it easier to prosecute police who use deadly force, removing Washington’s unusual standard that cops not be held criminally liable unless they acted with “malice.”
Yet the amendments would also have streamlined the definition of what constitutes a “good faith” shooting, while clarifying that police can wait to administer first aid until after they have cleared a scene.
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One problem: The way the Legislature tried to pass the bill. The state Supreme Court ruled that lawmakers didn’t have the power to pass an amended version of I-940 directly into law, and ordered the original version to go on the ballot instead.
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The original I-940 passed. But both sponsors and law enforcement groups still wanted to make the improvements they had agreed on.
Last week the, Legislature passed those changes to I-940 as its first bill of 2019 and sent it to the governor’s desk. Here’s what legislators had to say: .
“Law enforcement works for all of us, rich and poor, black and white — all of us. No one is above the law and no one is beneath the law. And I think this compromise acknowledges both these realities.”
— Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle
“Law enforcement has to make split-second decisions, and they need to be trained to an objective standard. And they don’t need to be second-guessed based on a subjective standard.”
— Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley
“This is really something that has been so unique with these different groups coming together. … I think the state of Washington can lead the nation in having this really tough conversation on policing in our country.”
— Sen. Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond