This week on “The Impact”:
Initiative 940 seeks to overhaul the statute that spells out when the use of deadly force by law enforcement is justified. If approved by the voters on November sixth, I- 940 would remove the requirement for prosecutors to prove an officer acted with malice when pressing charges and replace that language with a new, two part, “good faith” standard to determine criminal liability.
The initiative would mandate de-escalation and mental health training and would require officers to administer first aid. It would also require independent investigations for deadly force incidents.
Initiative 940’s path to the November ballot was not a straight line. Earlier this year community activists, law enforcement groups and legislators reached a compromise on changes to the law in what was hailed as a landmark achievement. The deal was quickly challenged in court. There may have been consensus on the compromise, but not the unusual legislative process used to pass and modify the initiative. Ultimately the State Supreme Court rejected the companion bill and sent I-940 to the ballot in its original form.
Now the initiative sponsors and many of the law enforcement groups that shook hands on a deal in the legislature are at odds over the version of the law on the ballot.
“There’s a de facto immunity in our law that is the ultimate problem. There is no state that has the same language that we have,” said André Taylor, De-Escalate Washington/I-940 supporter. “What we want is to see Washington at least equal with other states and what is that? Would a reasonable officer have done this type of behavior.”
“We don’t believe it respects law enforcement’s responsibilities, giving them proper deference, and we’re concerned that if it’s passed that there will be political prosecution,” said Teresa Taylor WACOPS / I-940 opponent. “Unfortunately the Supreme Court made the ruling it did and we have unfortunately found ourselves having to be in the position of having to inform the voters of what we think is dangerous about 940 for lack of a better word.”
This week you’ll also see high flying mountain goats dangling blindfolded from helicopters as they are relocated from Olympic National Park.
“There could be something upwards of 700 as of this year. How many can we capture? Nobody knows for sure but the estimates might be able to capture about half of them,” said Rich Harris, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
We’ll explore why they’re being removed and also why their salt cravings bring them into close proximity with hikers.
And months after it was appealed we’ll tell you the verdict on the new water quality rule for farms that some claim is too strict and others think is too lenient.