WHEREAS progressive action against injustice is a core part of our Democratic Party Platform;
WHEREAS we take note of and recognize that law enforcement has a unique role in our Communities;
WHEREAS in Washington State, like the rest of the nation, law enforcement use of deadly force has a disproportionate impact on marginalized communities, particularly persons of color, LGBTQ, persons with disabilities, youth, immigrants, with a disproportionate impact on the Black community and Native Americans, and with data showing that one-quarter of uses of deadly force involve a person with mental health issues;
WHEREAS, in Washington State there were 29 people killed by police in 2016 and 36 people killed by police in 2017, according to data compiled by the Washington Post; and
WHEREAS, a majority of those individuals suffered from diagnosed mental health issues or showed signs of mental illness; and
WHEREAS we affirm the role of law enforcement to protect human life and believe that accountability and public trust are a key part of law and order;
WHEREAS the duty to preserve life and protect the community also includes the underlying respect for humanity, and a duty to render first aid at the scene;
WHEREAS the law in Washington state on the use of deadly force by law enforcement (RCW 9A.16.040) has been called the most “egregious” in the nation due to a de facto immunity for unjustified use of force;
WHEREAS the public needs confidence in the review of use of deadly force, particularly when it results in death or serious injury, and has called for independent investigations to provide for a credible outcome;
WHEREAS Initiative 940, which is an initiative to the Legislature, calls for violence de-escalation, mental health, and first aid training, requires that first aid be rendered at the scene, removes the de facto immunity and replaces it with an objective and subjective good faith test, both of which must be met, requires a completely independent investigation, and includes diverse community members at the table to develop policies;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that we endorse Initiative 940, also known as De-Escalate Washington; and
THEREFORE BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that we call for wide-spread support through signature gathering to assure that Initiative 940 qualifies for the ballot, encourage coming to the table with law enforcement at all levels in this work, and will work for the passage of Initiative 940 during the 2018 legislative session; and will pursue its passage through to the November 2018 general election should that be necessary.
Submitted by Tara Nelson.
Approved on November 18, 2017.