Washington State Addresses Law Enforcement Use of Lethal Force

by Vins

In March 2018, the Washington state legislature recently passed two measures that will help hold law enforcement officers accountable when they use lethal force. Measures I-940 and ESBH 3003 were passed to eliminate de facto immunity from Washington states use of force statute and to implement reasonable standards for the state’s law enforcement officers. The measures require that independent investigations be conducted into each lethal-force encounter by law enforcement in addition to training in violence de-escalation, mental health, and first aid for all Washington state law enforcement officers.

These measures were enacted through the efforts of the De-Escalate Washington coalition and Amnesty International USA, in collaboration with local law enforcement unions.

According to Kristina Roth, senior program officer for criminal justice programs at Amnesty International USA, these measures are an important step toward protecting communities from unlawful killings and brutality by law enforcement. Roth said, “Shamefully, not a single state in the U.S. has laws that meet the international standard for the limited occasions when police can use lethal force. This law will help turn make progress by requiring independent investigations into tragic incidents, and provide officers with the training they need to prevent these events from occurring in the first place.”

Source: Robyn Shepherd, “Washington State Passes Law Addressing Lethal Force by Police,” Common Dreams, March 9, 2018, https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2018/03/09/washington-state-passes-law-addressing-lethal-force-police.

Student Researcher: Josh Fowler (Sonoma State University)

Faculty Evaluator: Cathy Reed (Santa Rosa VA Clinic)