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Steve Mylett
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Bellevue police chief on I-940 and reforms that are actually needed

Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett. (KIRO 7)

Initiative 940 has drawn a clear line in the sand between law enforcement, and those pushing for sweeping reform in how Washington state views the use of deadly force.

RELATED: I-940 is absolutely anti-cop

Bellevue Police Chief Steve Mylett sat down with KTTH’s Jason Rantz to talk about Initiative 940. While Chief Mylett’s attention has been diverted as of late, his thoughts on the legislation are measured.

“Adjustments need to be made, but I just would caution people on the pendulum swinging so far either way,” Mylett told Jason Rantz.

I-940 calls for mandatory, standardized de-escalation training for all law enforcement in Washington, as well as lowering the bar for determining evil intent when deadly force is used by officers.

Its main opposition are law enforcement agencies and police unions, who argue that it would lead to hesitation in life or death situations that police officers simply can’t afford.

“Anything that’s in place that would cause an officer to hesitate … and that could result in tragedy, needs to be thoroughly examined and ensure safeguards are in place to prevent that from happening,” cautioned Mylett.

At the same time, Mylett also admits that the state’s bar for evil intent does need an adjustment. Citing the controversial shooting of Walter Scott in South Carolina in 2015, Mylett pointed out that the officer in that incident — who was eventually convicted of murder — “would not have been charged” in Washington under the state’s current standards.

The bottom line for Mylett is realizing that the salacious headlines we often see regarding police shootings don’t always paint the whole picture.

“We have a really bad habit in this country of telling a story at the height of an event, and then you arrive at the truth, which did not resemble what happened on the day of the event,” he said. “The impression left with people is that what they heard and saw on the day of the event is the exact way that it happened.”

He went on to note that in today’s culture, “we see no benefit of the doubt being granted to police officers.” While he agrees with the conviction of the officer who shot Walter Scott in South Carolina, “that doesn’t mean that every police officer resemble[s] that type of officer.”

Ultimately, Mylett wants people to remember: “Officers are human beings.”

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