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Moms Demand Action, Students Demand Action Applaud Washington House and Senate Committees for Advancing Vital Police Violence Legislation

March 18, 2021

The Washington chapters of Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, both part of Everytown for Gun Safety, released the following statement after the Committees in both the Washington House and Senate passed HB 1054, HB 1267, and SB 5051, legislation which would help ensure transparency within police departments and prevent police violence. The effort comes during the Washington Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action annual advocacy week — where volunteers met with lawmakers and advocated for gun safety legislation. 

“We cannot address our gun violence public health crisis without addressing police violence and honoring the hundreds who die or are wounded by police violence every year across the country,” said DeVitta Briscoe, a member of the Everytown Survivor Network whose older brother, Che, was shot and killed a police officer in 2016. “We are grateful to our lawmakers for advancing these bills and will continue to fight for them until they are on Governor Inslee’s desk.” 

“For years these bills were championed by Black and Latino-led organizations across the state,” said Talia LeVine, a volunteer leader with Students Demand Action in Washington. “This step forward is a testament to their work and another step closer to making Washington communities safer from gun violence and police violence for all Washingtonians. We now look to the Senate and House for swift passage of this important legislation.” 

More Information About the Bills:

  • HB 1054 prohibits the use of chokeholds by law enforcement officers, no-knock warrants, and police acquisition of military equipment from the federal government.
  • HB 1267 creates an Office of Independent Investigations in the Office of the Governor who is charged with investigating police use of force incidents. The bill also establishes a new independent civilian process for investigations and will help promote accountability and ensure that investigations are complete and free from bias.
  • SB 5051 gives the Washington Criminal Justice Training Commission additional powers and oversight authority. The bill also improves rules for officer certification and makes improvements that will ensure transparency and that law enforcement officers with a history of misconduct cannot avoid accountability by moving to other law enforcement jobs.

Law enforcement agencies must adopt meaningful use of force policies, which encourage de-escalation, utilize early intervention systems, and ensure that officers who act in a manner that is criminally negligent can be held accountable. Research suggests that implementing specific use-of-force policies can save lives. One 2016 study of 91 large police departments found adoption of use-of-force reform policies—exhaustion of other means prior to shooting, bans on chokeholds and strangleholds, use-of-force continuum, de-escalation, duty to intervene, restrictions on shootings at moving vehicles, and warning before shooting—was associated with fewer people killed by police. 

Black Americans are shot and killed by police at three times the rate of white Americans, and data from Mapping Police Violence shows that most people killed by police are killed with guns. Between 2013-2020, 253 people were killed by police in Washington — and Black people were more than four times as likely to be killed by police as white people during that time. 

More information about police violence is available here. Additional information on gun violence in Washington is available here, and Everytown’s Gun Law Navigator — which shows how Washington’s gun laws compare to those of other states — is available here

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