Note: Originally published at OpsLens.com in 2018. OpsLens is under new management and the website is currently under revision.
If anyone was wondering if the leftist anti-police atmosphere was fading, you need not wonder. The Left’s de-policing culture is thriving, especially in Washington State. In Washington, the people pass laws either indirectly through the state legislature or directly by citizen’s initiative.
Though I support the initiative process, people need to be wary of a Democrat state government that aids leftist initiatives, such as I-940, the subject of this article, and obstructs conservative initiatives like I-27, which would have banned government-sponsored heroin injection sites in King County.
Leftist government stood against I-27 supporters at every turn. Finally, a King County judge ruled the initiative void because she apparently believes an unelected county health board supersedes the voters.
To the contrary, I-940 is an example of the alliance between anti-cop leftist community groups and leftist government. Just consider the clearly biased official title of I-940 relative to the real-world effect the act would have on law:
PART I, “NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. This act may be known and cited as the law enforcement training and community safety act.”
Who, reading this title on their ballot wouldn’t vote for it? I’d vote for it. Nothing in the title reflects the negative consequences to public safety. Talk about a de-policing initiative. What would the Left say if the initiative were called, “The law enforcement officer prosecution act?”
As current state law exists, cops who use deadly force cannot be criminally charged if they’re found to have acted without malice and in good faith. So, inversely, aren’t supporters of this initiative proposing a threshold where an officer could have acted in good faith and without malice yet still be held criminally liable? I-940 supporters want to remove the malice requirement, alter the definition of good faith, and change who reviews police shootings.
This initiative seeks to lower the prosecutorial standards to make it easier to criminally charge police officers who are judged to have wrongly, including honest mistakes, used deadly force. The fact I-940 supporters continually use examples of shootings where cops were found to have acted properly, proves their ultimate anti-police agenda.
Regardless that national statistics show officer shootings of suspects are rare, the anti-police forces continue to push the fake narrative that cops are mowing down people (minorities in particular) in the streets. The Seattle Police Department recently issued a report showing “extraordinarily low” police uses of force in 2017. Still, the Left continues to promote an anti-cop mythology. The truth is Americans don’t know how fortunate they are to have the law enforcement they have in this country.
Jason Rantz is a KTTH AM radio talk show host and outspoken I-940 opponent. He mentioned talking to an officer about the issue. The officer declined to identify himself, which strikes at the heart of attempting to respond to the anti-cop Left. While cops are the best people to speak about issues that directly affect them, like I-940, most will not speak out openly. “I spoke to one law enforcement officer, who will remain anonymous,” Rantz said. “so he does not suffer retribution.” Yes, retaliation is common in leftist jurisdictions.
Retribution against officers who dare to go against the leftist orthodoxy is a common tactic. Leftist local governments rarely suffer consequences for squelching of officers’ First Amendment rights. However, they actively support officers who express “approved” political views.
De-policing saturates I-940. That anonymous officer also told Rantz that if voters approve I-940, officers may hesitate when using any force. I agree. In the real world hesitation can mean death or serious injury—to innocent people or cops.
What are police officers to think when they hear supporters of I-940 spout comments like this one at a town hall meeting reported by Rantz, “officers are trained to kill all black people?” Not rogue cops but departments actually training cops to kill a race of people. This is crazy, but the Left listens to folks like this.
The initiative’s text reveals supporter’s problem with the word malice: “malice is a state of mind, and cannot be proven.” Nevertheless, AP writer, Drew Mikkelsen, points out the new law, “would also take into account an officer’s intentions to determine if she or he acted in good faith.”
If malice is a state of mind that can’t be proven, aren’t also an officer’s intentions? In fact, isn’t malice an intention? Though both states of mind may be ultimately unprovable, wouldn’t determining an officer’s intentions give I-940 supporters broader latitude for “fishing” for wrongdoing than the specific state of malice does?
If society confers on a qualified human being the authority to use deadly force while doing his or her job, shouldn’t the benchmark for prosecution be high? Isn’t that why law enforcement hiring standards, with the daunting batteries of academic and physical examinations, background checks, polygraphs, swearing an oath of office, and extensive training requirements are so comprehensive?
This selection process is uniquely challenging because, once successfully completed, society can then give police officers the benefit of the doubt they’ve earned and deserve? Shouldn’t this benefit of the doubt include a high prosecutorial standard for on-duty lethal force? And if an officer is found to have abused his or her authority, thus relinquishing a benefit of the doubt, then the police officer should also be held to a higher standard when answering for their wrong-doing.
In other words, barring evidence that shows bad behavior, cops should be afforded the benefit of the doubt—I-940 seeks to weaken that benefit. Of course, whether or not you support I-940 depends on your default mind-set about law enforcement, generally.
For example, if you believe the vast majority of police officers are ordinary people who take on an extraordinary job, go to work every day and risk their lives to make people’s lives better, and do the job honestly and honorably, you want the proverbial bar elevated for police use-of-force criminal prosecutions.
On the contrary, if you believe cops are the knuckle-dragging, Nazi Storm trooping, cold-blooded killing caricatures the anti-police state cultivates, then you want to make it easier to convict cops involved in shooting, pepper spraying, tasing, or thinking bad thoughts about, criminals.
As usual, who do the media and anti-police groups trot out to support such initiatives? Friends and relatives of criminal suspects police officers were forced to shoot in the line of duty. Does society really want to make it easier for people such as the openly socialist, cop-hating Seattle city council member, Kshama Sawant, who continues to accuse two Seattle police officers of “murder,” despite their being cleared of any wrongdoing?
Think about it. This councilwoman sees nothing wrong with these two fine police officers going to prison—literally ripped from their families and put behind bars—for doing their jobs. And they wouldn’t be the only ones if I-940 supporters get their wish. Fortunately, she does not have the authority to act as judge, jury, and executioner—yet.
But does anyone think there are prosecutors, judges, and jury members who think like she does? You better believe there are. Just consider Seattle city attorney Pete Holmes, who’s likely waiting for another chance to prosecute a police officer or assist the State in doing so. After all, he’s already attempted to indict cops for much less. And, from a Seattle PI report from June 26th, 2016, “Congressman Adam Smith (D) endorses I-873 [I-940] Anti Police Brutality Initiative.”
Their premise is flawed. When the Left hears that police in Washington State killed 213 suspects between 2005 and 2014 with only one officer receiving any discipline, a 212:1 ratio, they hear bad news.
So, what should the ratio be if well-trained officers involved in on duty shootings and veteran homicide investigators reviewing those shootings are doing their jobs right? 200:13, 150:63, 107:106, or 1:212? Doesn’t this perspective imply, or assert, more cops should go to prison for doing their jobs? The left actually sees few officers disciplined for wrongful shootings as a bad thing. Think about that kind of mentality. It’s not supposed to be a fair fight. Don’t we want our cops to shoot bad guys before they shoot the good guys?
To show how out of touch with reality I-940 supporters are, here is some of the “chaff” text the Left uses to hide the “wheat” substance and true goal of this anti-cop initiative:
PART II, NEW SECTION. Sec. 3. (1). [A]ll law enforcement officers in the state of Washington must receive violence de-escalation training.”
What does the Left think cops have always been trained to do? Maybe, in this new training, the leftist instructors will finally teach cops that magic word that makes every suspect do exactly what the officer tells them to do.
“PART III, NEW SECTION. Sec. 4 (1). All… officers… must receive mental health training.”
Again, cops get mental health training already. However, people with mental health issues don’t wear signs, and they’re not always known to be mentally ill until after an incident. Also, police officers are trained to react to people’s actions, not what their mental state may or may not be.
PART IV, NEW SECTION. Sec. 5 (1)(d): “De-escalation in patrol tactics and interpersonal communication training, including tactical methods that use time, distance, cover, and concealment, to avoid escalating situations that lead to violence;”
Translation: If an incident deescalates to violence, it’s the cop’s fault; it’s never the bad guy’s fault.
PART IV, NEW SECTION.
Sec. 5. (2) (b). “Alternatives to jail booking, arrest, or citation in situations where appropriate;”
Sec. 5. (2) (c).“Implicit and explicit bias, cultural competency, and the historical intersection of race and policing;”
These two are simply social justice B.S. and codifying into state law the leftist political indoctrination of law enforcement officers that the social justices have been conducting for many years. The terms used in the I-940’s language derive from the leftist political, social justice lexicon.
Sec 5. (2) (f). “Alternatives to the use of physical or deadly force so that deadly force is used only when unavoidable and as a last resort.”
This section is a profound betrayal and insult to law enforcement officers. Cops also already do this and have been forever.
Sec 5. (2) (g).“Mental health and policing, including bias and stigma.”
The only bias and stigma this initiative effort shows is against the police. All of this mandated “training” is leftist based—biased. It is not objective law enforcement training; it is subjective political indoctrination disguised as police training.
Sec 5. (2) (h). “rendering first aid,”
Oh, give me a break. Cops already do this, too.
And, finally, this gem:
PART VII, NEW SECTION. Sec. 9. “Where this act requires involvement of community stakeholders, input must be sought from organizations advocating for: Persons with disabilities; members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community; persons of color; immigrants; non-citizens; native Americans (are not ‘persons of color?’); youth; and formerly incarcerated persons.”
So, if members of one of the select, leftist-approved “victim” group gets him or herself shot by a cop, the criminal justice system must grant “input” to someone representing the person’s “victimhood?”
If I-940 passes, when a police officer is forced to shoot an illegal alien, transgender person, or ex-con the justice system must seek input from a pro-illegal alien, transgender, or ex…, oh sorry, I mean, “formerly incarcerated persons” groups?
Wait! I get it, now. This is really for a SNL skit, and I fell for it, right?
In the anti-police state, this garbage is all too true. And, if the Left does this in Washington, how long before it spreads to other states?
As for “wrongful killings,” do we really want to send police officers to prison when they make tragic but honest mistakes? We don’t send drivers to prison whose minor traffic infractions result in an innocent person’s death, and we don’t incarcerate surgeons whose honest mistakes result in a patient’s death.
Why does the Left see cops so differently—somehow not fully human, not allowed to make mistakes. As hard as it is to accept, there is a difference between intentional, reckless, or negligent actions and truly unintentional actions or mistakes.
This law will affect errors where officers accidentally shoot an innocent person due to a confluence of dynamic circumstances. Law enforcement differs greatly from other occupations.
In other professions if someone makes an honest error the wrong documents get transmitted, a customer receives a defective widget, or a restaurant server brings soup instead of salad. If a police officer makes an honest mistake, in the split-second fogginess of a life or death situation, tragically, people can die.
Don’t be fooled. I-940 is not about police accountability. If it were, the FBI’s statistics would back up to the left’s complaints. They don’t. This is yet another anti-police state attack on cops. Just because the Left doesn’t like how law enforcement is done doesn’t make it wrong.
Does society really want to lower the charging standards and make it easier for police detractors, who have little understanding of real police work, who don’t care to learn about it, and who don’t seem to like cops very much, to prosecute (persecute) cops? If so, society should get ready for an intensifying of what has come to be known as de-policing.
Such an initiative can only lead to officer hesitation when force is necessary. And cops know what hesitation leads to: injured and dead cops.