Olympia, WA – The Washington State Patrol Troopers Association is warning voters that Initiative 940 would require officers to render aid to suspects before their victims, among other issues.
The push to amend the law came after civil rights groups had complained that it was nearly impossible to convict a police officer of a crime in Washington.
The I-940 ballot measure was created with the intent of making it easier to prosecute police officers for negligent shootings, according to KCPQ.
The initial draft of the legislation eliminated the requirement that prosecutors must prove actual malice in order to get a conviction in an on-duty officer-involved shooting.
It also required a large amount of unfunded police training in first aid and de-escalation, the Tri-City Herald reported.
However, police noted that there were major issues in the language of the initiative.
Law enforcement groups met with legislators and opposition groups in order to craft a compromise bill that all sides could live with.
The goal was to pass the law in the legislature and save the state the costly expense of fighting a flawed initiative out on the ballot.
“Even though it isn’t perfect, it is a great outcome,” Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Executive Director Steve Strachan told KCPQ at the time.
However, the state Supreme Court ruled on Aug. 28 that the legislature had not followed proper procedure in amending the citizen-sponsored initiative, and said the original flawed version must be put before voters in November, the Tri-City Herald reported.
The union that represents the Washington’s state troopers released a white paper on Monday that outlined their objections to I-940 very specifically for the electorate.
The document explained, in point-by-point fashion, why the proposed legislation simply will not accomplish its intended goal of reducing violent interactions between law enforcement and the general public.
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The union explained to voters that I-940 would eliminate protections put in place specifically to protect law enforcement officers in a deadly-force encounter.
“Absent these safeguards for law enforcement, it is anticipated that law enforcement may hesitate when called up to respond to dangerous and violent situations that might expose them to a ‘split-second’ deadly force encounter for fear of political prosecution,” the union said.
“Second, this initiative will require that police officers administer medical attention to wounded suspects prior to treating victims or before pursuing a shooter,” the union’s document read.
The union also said that the legislation does not provide any funding for the new training that I-940 will require, and said it will cost “millions of dollars to implement” in already underfunded police agencies.