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Published on Friday, February 3, 2017

Bills that change deadly force laws get hearings in House and Senate

Bills that emerged from the interim Joint Legislative Task Force on the Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing received hearings on January 31 in the House and February 2 in the Senate. SB 5073 and HB 1529 modify the criminal liability standard for peace officers using deadly force, require independent investigations of deadly force incidents, require data collection, and increase training requirements.

A substitute version of SB 5073 was heard on February 2. This version includes a modification to the criminal liability standard by removing the malice requirement and further defining good faith: “For purposes of this section, "good faith" is whether a reasonable peace officer, relying upon the facts and circumstances known by the officer at the time of the incident, would have used deadly force.”

The proposed substitute also requires the development of model policies, requires independent investigations of deadly force incidents, increases de-escalation training requirements for officers, creates a study of peace officer diversity, and reinstitutes the Public Safety Enhancement account.

AWC supports the substitute version of SB 5073 because it includes the language on peace officer criminal liability that was developed by AWC and the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys during the task force.