Deadly force Initiative 940 seems to have passed in early returns

Enforcement officers will go through more deadly force training

JAYCE CARRAL, Evergreen reporter

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Initiative 940, which targets the use of deadly force by law enforcement officers, seems to have passed as of Tuesday night’s voter returns.

About 53.7 percent of the vote in Whitman County was in favor of I-940 compared to 46.3 percent against. Statewide, the initiative was approved by 59.2 percent versus 40.8 percent against.

The initiative aims to implement a ‘good faith’ test to determine if the use of deadly force was necessary, require de-escalation and mental health training and require law enforcement to administer first aid.

Jack Sorensen, spokesperson for De-Escalate Washington, said as of Tuesday the organization is confident the initiative will pass.

“I-940 will provide enhanced and improved de-escalation, first aid and mental health crisis training and ensure that all officers receive the same quality of training,” Sorensen said.

Along with training, I-940 also calls for an independent investigation process to be conducted in cases of law enforcement’s use of deadly force, Sorensen said. The investigation process would be conducted by law enforcement professionals.

The initiative will also require independent investigation when deadly force is used by outside law enforcement professionals, he said.

Washington legislation has already set aside $2 million in its current budget to fund the training necessary, he said. Costs to implement the programs would not directly increase for voters as the funding will come from the state’s annual budget, he said.

More Washingtonians were killed by police in 2017 in comparison to 45 other states, Sorensen said. One-third of those killed showed signs of experiencing a mental health crisis, he said.

“What this campaign has shown is that Washington residents don’t subscribe to divisive rhetoric,” he said. “You can both support police and better policing.”

Washington’s current law includes a “malice clause.” This calls for prosecutors to prove malintent by an officer who has used deadly force, he said.

“You can’t prove what someone is thinking,” Sorensen said. “Our state law is a standalone in the nation.”

Correction: This article was corrected to clarify statements made by Jack Sorensen.