An initiative that would strengthen mental health training requirements for police officers and make it easier to charge cops who use deadly force has gathered enough signatures to appear on the next ballot, according to a spokesperson for the initiative drive.
Riall Johnson, campaign director for De-Escalate Washington, says Initiative 940 has gathered more than 281,000 signatures, passing the 259,622 required by the Secretary of State's office for ballot initiatives.
Still, Johnson says his team is aiming for 350,000 signatures by December 20 for extra padding against duplicates, illegible handwriting, and signees who aren't registered to vote in Washington State.
As Sydney Brownstone reported back in July, Initiative 940 would remove language in Washington's deadly force law making this state the most difficult to prosecute officers who use deadly force.
The initiative also mandates that law enforcement officers in Washington State undergo mental health and de-escalation training, and requires cops to provide first aid to victims after police shootings. Police responses to mental health crises came under public scrutiny after the fatal police shootings of Renee Davis and Charleena Lyles, both pregnant women. The King County deputies who shot Davis had gone to her home for a "wellness check" after her boyfriend told police she threatened to kill herself. Lyles had recently been released from jail after an incident with police that her public defender said raised mental health issues.
Thirty-two people have been fatally shot by police in Washington State this year, according to a database of fatal police shootings maintained by the Washington Post. Mental illness played a role in nine of those 32 killings, the database shows.