Washington State is slated to have at least one progressive idea on the November 2018 ballot following today’s submission of signatures for Initiative 940 by De-Escalate Washington, a broad and diverse coalition of organizations that is seeking policing reforms to reduce the use of deadly force in our communities.
I‑940 “would require specific trainings for law enforcement; mandate a duty to provide first-aid; and change the standards for use of deadly force, including a ‘good faith’ standard and requiring independent investigation”, as noted by its amended ballot title, which was approved by court order back in the summer.
I‑940 requires that all currently sworn law enforcement officers undergo violence de-escalation and mental health training beginning a year following the date the initiative goes into law, makes rendering first aid a responsibility of police, and prescribes a “good faith” standard for use of deadly force.
It also mandates that each use of deadly force be investigated.
“Where the use of deadly force results in death, substantial bodily harm, or great bodily harm, an independent investigation must be completed to inform the determination of whether the use of deadly force met the objective good faith test established by this section and satisfied other applicable laws and policies,” states Part VI of the initiative (Section 7, subsection 5D).
NPI supports I‑940 and is a member of the De-Escalate Washington coalition, which was able to gather over 360,000 signatures using a mixture of volunteers and paid signature gatherers during the latter half of 2017.
Coalition members gathered at the United Churches of Olympia to celebrate a successful signature drive before marching over to the Secretary of State’s Elections Annex on Union Street to drop off boxes of petitions. The march took place in the rain, but that did not put a damper on the event, which was months in the making.
Speakers at the coalition’s press conference accompanying the turn-in included Lisa Earl and James Rideout (the mother and uncle of Jackie Salyers), Uyen Le and Xuyen Le (the aunts of Tommy Le), Marilyn Covarrubias (the mother of Daniel Covarrubias), and Katrina Johnson (the cousin of Charleena Lyles).
The received petitions will soon be imaged by the Secretary of State’s Elections Division and subjected to a random sample check to verify that the initiative has met the minimum signature threshold, which is 259,622.
Because I‑940 is an initiative to the 2018 Legislature, it will first be presented to the House and Senate during the legislative session for hearings and a possible vote. If the Legislature does nothing, I‑940 will appear on the November 2018 ballot.
The Constitution gives the Legislature other options. Lawmakers can put I‑940 on the books itself by giving the initiative an affirmative vote in both houses (no gubernatorial signature required), or craft an alternative to I‑940 that would appear on the ballot alongside the original measure. Voters would then decide whether to approve the original measure or the Legislature’s alternative.