Change In Police Deadly Force Law Falters, Fight Not Over
One casualty of the looming end of Washington state’s legislative session is a bill on police use of deadly force.
Washington has one of the highest bars in the nation for charging police officers who use deadly force. They are protected as long as they act in good faith and without malice.
The proposal in the legislature would have removed “malice” from the law, but that didn’t sit well with rank-and-file officers.
“Elimination of malice has a chilling effect on officers,” Carl Nelson with the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs said in testimony earlier this year.
But Democratic state Sen. David Frockt said the hard-to-prove test of malice erodes trust.
“That is a standard that is unlike anything else in the country,” he said.
Frockt said until malice is removed from the law, it will be hard to have a broader conversation about ways to reduce deadly encounters. And Frockt noted if the legislature doesn’t act, a citizen initiative is likely.
Besides changing the deadly force law, Frockt’s bill would have mandated officer training in de-escalation techniques, implicit bias and cultural competency. It would also have directed the Attorney General’s office to collect and report data on the use of deadly force. And the measure would have created a grant program to help police departments purchase less-than-lethal weapons.
The proposals grew out of a legislative task force on police deadly force that met last year. That task force included police, prosecutors and community members. In a split vote last November, it recommended removing both “malice” and “good faith” from Washington law.
While there is disagreement over changing the law, there is broad agreement that officers would benefit from additional training and that the state should be collecting data on uses of deadly force.
Frockt spoke with Austin Jenkins on TVW’s “Inside Olympia” program.
Only a year after a Washington law gave farmworkers the right to earn overtime, state lawmakers are discussing the issue again. If Washington lawmakers pass Senate Bill 5476 and House Bill 1523, agricultural employers could choose 12 weeks each year when farmworkers could work up to 50 hours without getting paid overtime wages. Continue Reading Growers look for seasonal exemptions to overtime pay
The new honey bee vaccine from Dalan Animal Health is currently undergoing field trials to gather more data. (Credit: Dalan Animal Health) Listen (Runtime 1:07) Read Honey bees and other… Continue Reading The buzz: New honey bee vaccine could protect pollinators, improve U.S. agriculture
Photo via Pixabay Read Some patients at Quality Behavioral Health could have had private information stolen during a data breach that occurred between Nov. 24 and 26 of last year,… Continue Reading Behavioral health clinic’s data breach may leave patients vulnerable