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Tomorrow, people in Washington state will be voting on an initiative that would require police officers to receive training in violence de-escalation, mental health, and first aid so that officers will have greater skills to resolve conflict without the use of physical or deadly force. Initiative 940 would require independent investigations when an officer causes serious injury or death and would ensure tribes are notified if a tribal member was injured or killed when interacting with law enforcement. Initiative 940 would also replace a malice intent requirement with the lower threshold to determine when any use of lethal force was unlawful. 

Ahead of the vote, Kristina Roth, Senior Program Officer for Criminal Justice Programs at Amnesty International USA said: 

“Tomorrow, voters have a chance to make history by becoming the first state to require independent investigations when police cause serious injury or employ deadly force as required by a state’s use of force law. This initiative is a major step forward in holding police accountable when they unlawfully use lethal force, and could potentially save lives by preventing lethal encounters before they happen.  

Every state in the U.S. has laws that fall short of meeting the international standard for the limited occasions when police can use lethal force. While not perfect, this initiative would be a huge step forward and would set an example for better practices, true justice, and accountability.” 

Background:

Amnesty International USA’s report, Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States has documented how the United States has failed to ensure that domestic legislation meets international human rights law and standards on the use of lethal force by law enforcement officers.