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This initiative could change police culture and their use of deadly force, group says

UPDATED: Sat., July 8, 2017

By Lisa Pemberton Olympian

A coalition of families who have been affected by police shootings from around the state attended the unveiling of Initiative 940 on Thursday at Seattle City Hall.

The initiative proposes implementation of de-escalation training, mental health evaluations and mandates that first aid be rendered on the scene if a civilian is injured by a police officer, according to a news release from De-Escalate Washington. It would allow prosecutors to charge police officers for misuse of deadly force, which is nearly impossible under current state laws, KOMO News reported.

Katrina Johnson – the cousin of Charleena Lyles, who was killed last month in Seattle – said she and her family members want to see more emphasis on de-escalation training and immediate first aid. She said those efforts would have saved her cousin’s life.

“We have to be able to change the laws so that no one else’s family is standing up here going through what we’re going through right now,” Johnson said in the Crosscut story.

“And also we want police accountability,” Johnson said in a story published by The Stranger. “If you’re going to take a life, you have to be able to make it make sense to the family. And right now, none of it makes sense to us.”

If 260,000 signatures are submitted by the end of the year to the secretary of state’s office, lawmakers would be forced to consider it during the 2018 legislative session, according to KOMO News.

“The inclusive nature of the campaign organization is powerful and cutting edge,” state Rep. Beth Doglio of Olympia said in a news release from De-Escalate Washington. “This is particularly important for the protection of those with disabilities.”

The Democrat described the initiative as “an opportunity to have a candid statewide conversation and education process about how we change police culture so that no one is needlessly killed.”

The full text of the initiative is available online.

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