JASON RANTZ

Seattle cop: I-940 will benefit criminals, not the good guys

Mar 2, 2018, 7:18 AM | Updated: 8:31 am
I-940...
(File, Associated Press)
(File, Associated Press)

Initiative I-940 is, quite simply, anti-cop. It’s being sold to voters as a means to improve officer training but it’s really about making it easier to prosecute cops for justifiable shootings.

It turns out, unfortunately, it’s really easy to find irrational anti-cop people willing to think the worst of cops.

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I’m informed by a number of things, not just common sense and a basic understanding of the difficulties of policing, but by my interactions with cops. Some are friends, others are colleagues, but all have a lot on the line if I-940 ever becomes law. And many of them have come out passionately against this initiative.

One aspect ignored in the debate is a rather alarming one: if it passes, it will have a negative impact on policing. I spoke to one law enforcement officer, who will remain anonymous so he does not suffer retribution.

The officer tells me that if I-940 passes, officers will be less likely to use force at all — including when it’s absolutely necessary.

“If you have somebody with a knife or gun in your home or school, what will the police response be?” the officer asked me. “I would, with full intent, go there to stop and shoot the person(s) [if necessary] — which makes it premeditated. But now, with ‘good faith and malice,’ sorry … I guess I shouldn’t go.”

Under I-940, an officer who uses force will be judged based on what a “reasonable officer” might do. But if a jury is filled with anti-cop activists, should they be trusted to decide what is reasonable?

At a recent town hall-style event, a speaker claimed officers are trained to kill all black people; that they’re “treacherous” murders. She shouldn’t be an arbiter of what a reasonable cop would do, which is why some may not rush to engage a dangerous suspect.

“Guess I should wait until the suspects leave your home before showing up,” the officer explained. “Don’t want to lose my job, house, and everything else for showing up and having to use force on the suspect that is there harming you. My intent is good, but if I miss any one of my department’s 3,000-plus pages of policy, they too will throw their hands up and I’m on my own, fighting for what pays my family’s bills and mortgage.”

This officer supports the current bar in charging an officer. Currently, there must be evil-intent or malice to punish an officer. Given the number of regulations and what we’re asking of cops, this officer thinks it’s fair.

“[I-940] as is? Hell no,” the officer said. “You are going to empower criminals further than what they are and push the police further from where we are … Every state has some form of language protecting an officer. No other state in the country is attempting to remove that clause from their laws. Not DC, not NY, not even California, but here in Washington the anti-police groups decide they want to get cops fired and put into jail.”

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It’s not hard to find these exact sentiments expressed by other cops. After my original editorial against I-940, many expressed their disgust with the bill.

If so many cops are against the bill, shouldn’t that raise red flags? We ask cops to do so much already, they put their lives on the line for us, they run towards danger when we run away. Perhaps we rally behind them, not against them, for a change.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
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Seattle cop: I-940 will benefit criminals, not the good guys