Frequently Asked Questions

Get the facts about Initiative 940, and learn how we can improve training and save lives by voting YES this November.

You can read the full text of Initiative 940 here.

 

Yes on 940 will save lives by improving de-escalation, first aid, and mental health crisis training for all law enforcement officers in Washington. It will also help increase trust between police and the communities they serve.

Last year, more Washingtonians were killed in encounters with law enforcement than in 45 other states, and almost a third of those killed showed signs of a mental health crisis. By providing law enforcement with more tools to handle difficult encounters, we can have more positive outcomes and save lives.

Yes. Many in law enforcement – including current and retired sheriffs and police chiefs as well as the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, the Black Law Enforcement Association of Washington, and the National Black Police Association – support this measure because it gives officers more training and more tools to prevent tense situations from becoming tragedies.

De-escalation training is training developed by law enforcement professionals that emphasizes using force only when necessary. It includes calming a crisis through tactics such as compassion and communication, having a mindset in advance, gaining cooperation, creating space between an officer and a subject, waiting for backups and other supports to arrive, and using the lowest level of force necessary.

Right now officers in Washington receive minimum training – only 8 hours of what’s called “crisis intervention training,” unless an officer works in one of the very few jurisdictions that can afford more training on their own. Expanded mental health training is optional. Last year, more Washingtonians were killed in encounters with law enforcement than in 45 other states. Clearly the training is not enough. Initiative 940 would create expanded de-escalation and mental health crisis training for every officer in Washington.

Initiative 940 specifies that the training curriculum, as well as other provisions under the initiative, will be developed by the state Criminal Justice Training Commission, which means that law enforcement will be directly involved in implementing Initiative 940 in a way that works best for them. That process will include other stakeholders, such as persons with disabilities, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ people, Native Americans, youth, and formerly incarcerated persons.

Right now in Washington, when a tragedy does occur there is no requirement that the subsequent investigation be managed by an independent team, not by the law enforcement agency involved in the incident. That’s not fair for families, communities, or police officers themselves. Initiative 940 will create a new fair and independent investigation process to determine whether an officer’s use of deadly force was necessary, as well as what could be done to prevent tragic outcomes in the future. Additionally, the investigation will be led by professionals, not by citizens.

No, that is not the goal of Initiative 940. The primary goal is to prevent tragic outcomes from happening in the first place.

Initiative 940 would update our standards around use of force, but it wouldn’t make it easy to prosecute officers. Right now, Washington is the only state in the nation with a gap in our law that requires “malice” – or evil intent – for communities and agencies to hold an officer accountable, even if use of force was unjustified. Initiative 940 would update that with standards already in use in 27 other states that simply (1) ask the officer if he or she feared for their life and (2) ask another reasonable officer with the same training if they would have made the same choice.

In over half the country where similar standards are in place, officers are not frequently prosecuted. That won’t happen with Initiative 940, either.

As reported by The Seattle Times, in a nine-year period more than 200 people in Washington died in encounters with police, and the Legislature didn’t pass a bill to improve training and make our communities safer for families and law enforcement.

There is no guarantee of any future action by the Legislature, either. We have an opportunity to save lives this November with Initiative 940.

As current and former law enforcement officers who support Initiative 940 will tell you, when police are in potentially dangerous situations they rely on instincts to make the best decision possible. Instincts come from training. So when officers aren’t provided enough de-escalation and mental health crisis training, they aren’t given enough tools to rely on to defuse potentially deadly encounters. Initiative 940 will help law enforcement officers better protect our communities and themselves.

This is a scare tactic, and is not based on anything in Initiative 940. In fact, Initiative 940 specifically says that law enforcement officers are expected to provide first aid “at the earliest opportunity,” not during an active shooter situation or when there are people in danger. Further, the expectations around providing first aid will be developed by the Criminal Justice Training Commission and law enforcement when Initiative 940 passes, so law enforcement will be creating the rules on first aid themselves.


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