By Emma Epperly
WNPA Olympia News Bureau
House Bill 1064, a proposed amendment to De-Escalate Washington — Initiative 940, was unanimously voted through the House Public Safety Committee on Jan. 15.
After the vote, Rep. Brad Klippert, R-Kennewick, who is a former law enforcement officer, led members of the committee and those in attendance in a raucous cheer.
I-940, approved by voters by a wide margin last year, added training requirements for law enforcement officers in the areas of de-escalation, mental health and first aid.
The amendment makes no major changes to I-940 but focuses on making the initiative easier for the public to understand, along with clarifying the “good faith” standard that is now objective, rather than the previously subjective criteria.
More than 20 agency representatives and community members testified; all were in support of HB 1064.
Tim Reynon, a member of the Puyallup Tribal Council, told the committee the bill pursues “justice for all” — meaning the community and police officers.
The amendment allows for four areas of I-940 to be addressed or clarified. The areas are de-escalation training, the “good faith” standard, independent investigation of incidents would be required, and the language would be changed around rendering first aid.
Operating in “good faith” means an officer who is objectively similar would also have believed that deadly force was necessary. Previously, the “good faith” standard was subjective in that the officer had to state they intended to use deadly force in a lawful manner.
This bill is a result of a Thurston County Superior Court judge ruling that it was unconstitutional for the legislature to amend I-940 during the same legislative session. When I-940 was passed in March of 2018, it was immediately amended to fix issues with the initiative.
The original version of I-940 appeared on the ballot in November 2018 and passed with 59.60 percent of the vote.
Due to this ruling, HB 1064 must pass with a two-thirds majority to move forward, since it has been less than two years since the original passage of I-940.
House Public Safety Committee Chairman Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, sponsored an almost identical amendment that was passed previously. HB 1064 includes an emergency designation to allow the bill, if passed, to take effect immediately.
Chester Earl, cousin to Puyallup tribe member Jackie Salyers, who died in a police shooting in January 2016, helped I- 940 get on the ballot. He testified Monday saying: “I agree with my fellow citizens and community officers. This should be a unanimous vote taken over across the way (to the legislature) to pass 1064, and you’re going to do it for every citizen of Washington state.”