The state would enact the recommendations of a legislative task force on the Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing, under legislation introduced today by state Sen. David Frockt, D-Seattle. A companion bill will be introduced in the House by Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline.
“Our police need the tools and support to be able to move forward with the most effective, modern policing methods, and our communities need the assurance that they will receive the best law enforcement possible,” said Frockt, a member of the task force. “After months of study and discussion, it became clear that this is the vehicle to address these issues after the great effort and debate the task force put into the process.”
Frockt said the recommendations represent the conclusions of a diverse group of representatives from law enforcement, public defenders, prosecutors, civil rights groups, community representatives and legislators, most of which received overwhelming support in the task force deliberations. Each of the recommendations is incorporated into his Senate Bill 5073.
“Our biggest challenge is to establish common ground between law enforcement and our communities,” he said. “The recent tragic shootings of our law enforcement officers in Washington and around the country, remind us that we need to ensure their safety as they perform what is often highly dangerous work. At the same time, we must address community concerns.
“The recommendations in this bill achieve that common ground. Enhanced training for de-escalation techniques and other best practices are proposed. And, while we propose to remove the word ‘malice’ from the statute, we provide for a reasonable officer defense that takes into account the facts and circumstances presented to the officer at the time of any use of deadly force.”
The recommendations are the result of legislation passed in 2016 that charged the task force with: reviewing laws, practices and training programs regarding the use of deadly force; reviewing existing policies, practices and tools available to law enforcement as an alternative to deadly force; and recommending best practices to reduce the number of violent interactions between law enforcement officers and members of the public.
“Whenever something minor like a traffic stop leads to someone being shot — whether it’s a person of color or a police officer — it’s a tragedy,” Ryu said. “We’ve all been to too many funerals. This new law could go a long way toward preventing those needless deaths.”