Both sides of Washington’s I-940 campaign to back changes next year


Backers and foes of a successful Washington ballot measure with new standards on the use of lethal force by police say they will work together to ask lawmakers for improvements they both support.

Equal Rights Washington, which sponsored Initiative 940, and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, which opposed it during the fall campaign, said they will reunite in a coalition to get what they consider “consensus revisions” through the 2019 Legislature. The groups worked together earlier this year, after I-940 supporters had gathered enough signatures to submit the proposal to the Legislature.

After a series of meetings with lawmakers, they and other groups agreed to make changes to provisions regarding the standard to protect an officer from criminal liability when deadly force is used. But rather than passing an alternative initiative with those changes to share the November ballot with I-940, the Legislature passed a separate law with those changes to take effect the day after the initiative became law.

The Washington Supreme Court ruled it an unconstitutional way to amend an initiative, placing I-940 sans changes on the ballot. The initiative passed with almost 60 percent of the vote statewide.

House Public Safety Committee Chairman Roger Goodman says the changes to I-940 will be the first bill the panel hears in 2019. The measure will be similar to the changes passed this year but with one exception – an emergency clause that would allow it to take effect immediately.

A companion bill with the consensus revisions is also expected in the Senate. (Spokesman-Review)