Transforming the Relationship between Police and Communities of Color

Do you want to transform the relationship between police and communities of color by ensuring police are trained adequately on de-escalation and mental health topics? Make your voice heard TODAY and share your input on their proposed curriculum by emailing: DEINPUT@CJTC.STATE.WA.US

Image from De-Escalate Washington

Voters Support Reform for Policing

In November 2018 the voters of Washington State took the lead nationally on police accountability with the passage of Initiative 940.   Washington State was an outlier among the 50 states, with our unique law that gave law enforcement a de facto immunity if they used excessive and lethal force.  The statistics are grim, with Washington having more deaths at the hands of police in 2017 than 45 other states, and with one-third of all persons killed experiencing a mental health crisis.  A coalition of families, people of color, immigrants, persons with disabilities, labor unions, organizers, formerly incarcerated persons, veterans, LGBTQ, Tribes, law enforcement, and others came together through De-Escalate Washington to bring the initiative to the ballot. 

I-940 Addresses training, use of force, and provides oversight

Initiative 940 sets out a framework for changing the culture of policing, requires community involvement, and increases accountability. It requires statewide violence de-escalation and mental health training, first aid training and guidelines to render first aid at the scene. It removed the de facto immunity for police involved in civilian deaths and established an objective standard for use of force. It requires completely independent investigations of lethal use of force incidents. And it requires that tribes be involved when a tribal member is injured or killed.   It also established a statewide taskforce to shape law enforcement training, and required representation from a wide range of impacted communities.

Community Role Put in Statute

Initiative 940 affirms that community voice matters, and it requires that when the state training academy, known as the Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC), sets the new curriculum and hours, that it must consult with a diverse group of stakeholders representing impacted communities as well as with law enforcement.

The law took effect on December 6, 2018, and the Criminal Justice Training Commission has just 6 months to adopt the new curriculum, a year to adopt guidelines on rendering first aid, and a year to establish criteria for completely independent investigations.

The community stakeholder group is now up and running with representation from the following stakeholders:

  • Asian Pacific Islander Coalition Washington
  • Commission on African American Affairs
  • Commission on Asian Pacific American Affairs
  • Community Passageways
  • Disability Rights Washington
  • Divine Alternatives for Dads Services
  • Equal Rights Washington
  • Latino Civic Alliance
  • NAACP – King County
  • NAACP – Spokane County
  • National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
  • Northwest Immigrant Rights Project
  • Not This Time
  • OneAmerica
  • Public Defender Association
  • Puyallup Tribe of Indians
  • Yakama Nation

What’s Next

The CJTC has prepared a draft rule for de-escalation and mental health training, and it is gathering input from the public and meeting with the community stakeholders.  This work will be wrapped up by June 6.

Public Forums

So far, the CJTC has held two forums, one is Spokane and one in Burien.  Community stakeholders are holding forums in Yakima, Vancouver, Tacoma, and elsewhere.  Check the De-Escalate Washington Facebook page for times and locations of these meetings.  

Disability Rights Washington is gathering input on police training for responding to persons with disabilities. 

Make sure your voice is heard.  The points of contact on the Task Force for immigrant and refugee community concerns are Yvette Maganya at yvette@weareoneamerica.org or Malou Chavez at malou@nwirp.org  .

What You can Do Right Now

You can review a copy of the draft rule and the current curriculum  and give input to the CJTC at this email:  DEINPUT@CJTC.STATE.WA.US

Let the CJTC know if the curriculum addresses the needs and concerns of your community and the people you know who are impacted by policing.  Have they described de-escalation the way that the public understands it?  Do they provide enough emphasis on less lethal alternatives?  Are law enforcement officers taught to work with and respect people who are struggling, or different, or having a hard time communicating?  This is your chance to shape the culture of reform.

Submit your comments as soon as you can, and no later than April 15th, as the CJTC is working on its next draft and your input is valuable.   They will submit a finished product to the full CJTC commission on May 23rd, so they need to hear from you before then in order to consider your input. 


This post was co-written by Yvette Mangaya, South King County Organizer at Fuse Washington and Rick Stolz, OneAmerica Executive Director.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *