A task force to be convened in Washington will recommend ways to reduce violence between police and the public.
Gov. Jay Inslee gave final approval for the task force Friday by signing a bill that the 147-member Legislature approved with just three dissenting votes.
“This is a historic day and is the first step,” said Karen Johnson, co-founder of the Black Alliance of Thurston County, “and now the work begins.”
Police officers who use deadly force in Washington are protected from criminal liability as long as they act without malice and with a good-faith belief that the force is permitted by law. Some advocates say that makes it difficult to hold police accountable for wrongful shootings.
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Advocacy groups including the Black Alliance — which formed in the wake of the shooting of two young black men in Olympia last May — and the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington want to amend the standard. But that effort has so far gone nowhere in the Legislature.
Lawmakers created the task force to study practices and policies related to the use of both deadly force and nonlethal weapons such as Tasers. It is to produce a report by Dec. 1 and recommend ways to reduce violence.
Rep. Cindy Ryu, D-Shoreline, sponsored the bill.
The task force will include lawmakers, along with representatives of law enforcement, local governments, advocacy groups for minorities and people with disabilities, and more.