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Last night, the Washington legislature passed Initiative 940, a ballot measure brought by the De-Escalate Washington Coalition. Legislators also passed a clarifying bill, HB 3003, the result of months of deliberations between families affected by police violence, the De-Escalate Washington Coalition, and members of the law enforcement community.
I-940 is an important measure to make Washington a safer place for every child, every person, and every family. We’re thrilled that de-escalation training and accountability policies have moved forward and see this as an important step in addressing the structural racism embedded in our criminal justice system.
I-940 and HB 3003 will require police training for violence de-escalation, mental health, and first aid; eliminate de-facto immunity for when officers unjustly use deadly force; clarify the timeline for notification of Tribes if a Tribal member is killed to ensure enough time for important cultural ceremonies and rituals; and require completely independent investigations into uses of deadly force that result in grave injury or death. Additionally, the measure will bring diverse community stakeholders to the table for development of accountability standards.
Structural racism permeates our criminal justice system, starting the moment the police are called and continuing through sentencing and beyond. These new standards help correct Washington’s egregiously lax police accountability laws.
I-940 received enormous support from families, Tribal members, community leaders, and advocacy organizations -- including MomsRising. In 2017, hundreds of MomsRising members gathered petition signatures in support of the initiative, and during the 2018 legislative session, MomsRising members made over 500 legislative contacts to advocate for I-940.
This initiative is a positive move toward dismantling the institutionalized racism in our police departments. No parent, child, sibling or spouse should ever have to worry that they may lose a loved one to police violence. We’re proud to see Washington State take a big step forward in addressing racial bias and police violence against communities of color and hope to see similar measures adopted in states and jurisdictions across the country.

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