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Bill to clarify I-940 takes huge step forward

(KIRO Radio,Matt Pitman)

Ferguson. Chicago. Dallas. Seattle.

RELATED: Lawmakers want to fast-track amendment to I-940

All of those cities have experienced questionable or unjustified police shootings involving people of color, creating a massive divide between law enforcement and the public.

Communities of color fear for their lives. Cops don’t feel safe. Neither side trusts the other.

In Washington State, it’s been a hot button issue over the past decade, following the deadly police shootings of John T. Williams, Charleena Lyles, Tommy Le, Giovanni Herrin and most recently Iosia Faletogo. It’s led to protests, lawsuits, and above all else, demand for change.

That change came in November 2018, when Washington voters overwhelmingly approved De-Escalate Washington’s initiative, I-940.

I-940 was approved by voters, but law enforcement groups — and at that point more significantly community groups behind I-940 — all still vowed to get that clarifying bill finished this session, and honor the historic agreement they had reached.

The bill, which tightens up the language on the good faith standard for use of deadly force, clarifies independent investigation requirements, and makes it clear that cops can secure the scene and ensure public safety before rendering first aid to someone they’ve shot.

It was unanimously approved by the House on a 98-0 vote Thursday.

RELATED: Confusing tale of I-940 moves to November ballot

Ahead of the vote, Democratic Rep. Roger Gooodman who, along with Democratic Senator David Frockt, championed this effort, noted it had been a years long process that most thought they couldn’t pull off. In the end, they were able to work it out through hard work and listening to one another and understanding on both sides.

Goodman spoke from the House floor on the effort.

Understanding that our law enforcement have a really tough job. They think about their loved ones in the morning not knowing whether they’re actually going to come home alive at the end of the day. And for many in vulnerable unrepresented communities the greater understanding of what it feels like to get the respect they deserve…and to feel like they’re getting shot at, and when members of those communities — they don’t just say ‘see you later’ they look each other in the eye, shake hands and say ‘be safe.’

Republican Representative and Seattle Police Officer Morgan Irwin noted not everyone in law enforcement backs this, including his union, the Seattle Police Guild. He also noted that he was voting for it because all sides came together and made a deal, and that it was important to keep that promise in an effort to rebuild trust between police and the communities.

Goodman praised the bill and its impending passage as historic, and explained that he hoped it set an example for the rest of the nation.

“Let this measure and the collaborative process that led to it be a beacon to the nation, that we can protect the safety of our communities and also respect the individual liberties of everyone in the communities and respect and enhance civil rights,” Goodman said.

The Senate is expected to take it up next week, where it is expected to pass and head to Gov. Jay Inslee’s desk, who has said he will sign the bill.

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