Published on Nov 16, 2018

Initiative 940 – What happens next?

Contact: Sharon Swanson, Shannon McClelland

Washington State voters approved Initiative 940 (I-940), concerning law enforcement training and community enforcement, by a 19-point margin. Although not yet certified by the Secretary of State, as of November 15, 59% of voters cast their ballot in favor of the initiative.

I-940 makes the following changes to current law:

  • Use of deadly force must be rendered in good faith. The use of deadly force by a law enforcement officer is justifiable if the officer’s action meets a good faith standard. The standard has two parts and both must be met:
    • Reasonable officer test – A reasonable officer, considering all the facts and circumstances known to the officer at the time, would have believed that the use of deadly force was necessary to prevent death or serious physical harm to the officer or another individual.
    • Actual intent – If the officer intended to use deadly force for a lawful purpose and sincerely and in good faith believed that the use of deadly force was warranted in the circumstance.
  • Duty to render first aid. All law enforcement personnel now have a paramount duty to preserve the life of persons law enforcement officers encounter and must render first aid.
  • Mandatory violence de-escalation and mental health training. All law enforcement officers in the state must receive violence de-escalation training and mental health training. Newly-hired officers must complete training within the first 15 months of employment. The initiative includes provisions for establishing training curriculum.

Next steps:

Once the election is certified on November 28, I-940 becomes law. The Legislature cannot amend or repeal the language in an initiative within the first two years of passage unless they do so with a two-thirds majority vote in each chamber. Absent such a vote, the language in I-940 will remain in effect exactly as the voters approved it.

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