Yes on 940: Uniting Our communities and Law Enforcement to Save Lives

By TIM REYNON, Puyallup Tribal Councilmember and De-escalate Washington Co-Chair

On January 28, 2016, our Tribal community was rocked to its core with the sudden and unnecessary death of one of our young mothers, Jacqueline Salyer. Jackie and her unborn child were inexplicably killed by a Tacoma police officer. This tragedy caused our Tribal leadership and community to come together and seek justice for Jackie and justice for all those families who have lost loved ones at the hands of law enforcement. By unifying as a Tribal community, joining with other victims’ families, and creating a diverse coalition, we started to build bridges between our communities and police. The result: Initiative 940.

This November, collectively, we have the opportunity to vote Yes on 940 to improve police officer training, protect lives, and make our communities safer for all of us. Yes on 940 will continue to unite our communities and law enforcement to collaboratively develop community policing strategies and policies that work for all of us. It will save lives by requiring officers to receive enhanced de-escalation, mental health crisis, and first aid training, equipping officers with the skills they need to handle the challenging situations they face every day and preventing deadly interactions from occurring in the first place.

Today, more Washingtonians are killed in encounters with law enforcement than in 45 other states. Up to one-third of those killed by law enforcement show signs of a mental health crisis. Yes on 940 is imperative because it will provide our officers with the necessary tools to handle situations involving those experiencing mental health crises and provide alternatives to using deadly force. Let’s reverse this deadly trend, protect lives, and make Washington the safest state in the nation for our community members and our police!

We continue to mourn the life of our young Puyallup relative Jackie, and her unborn baby, Justice. They likely would be alive today if Initiative 940 were in place. Today, we are still healing from their absence. Yes on 940 is part of our healing. We ask you, together with our relatives and friends in law enforcement, to help us build these bridges to healing and save lives. VOTE YES ON 940.

Before heading to the ballot, here is what you need to know about Yes on 940. Voting yes will:
– Require law enforcement of cers to receive training on violence de-escalation, mental health crisis, and first aid, which will better prepare them for work in the field.
– Require law enforcement officers to render first aid at the scene, which will help save lives.
– Establish an impartial process to determine whether an officer’s use of deadly force was necessary, as well as what could be done to prevent tragic outcomes in the future. Currently, Washington is the only state in the nation that has a “de facto immunity,” shielding police from prosecution for the unjustified use of deadly force.
– Bring diverse community members together to develop standards and curriculum for trainings so they address communities’ lived experiences.
Involve tribal governments in investigations where a tribal person is injured or killed.