State lawmakers, activists aim to tackle police reform during new legislative session

VIDEO: State lawmakers and activists aim to tackle police reform during new legislative session

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Activists are taking the power of their protests from the streets of Seattle this summer to policy-making at the state Capitol in Olympia.

“We’re not asking for a seat at the table. We, the community, are building our own,” said DeAunte Damper from Washington Black Lives Matter Alliance, a new statewide coalition.

On Thursday, the group discussed an ambitious agenda of new possible laws to tackle police reform.

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“The requirement of a special prosecutor,” said Livio De La Cruz with Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County.

The panel included leadership from Black Lives Matter Seattle-King County and state lawmakers who discussed their new bills to tackle police reform.

“The vast majority of officers do their job with honor and respect to the profession but we know systemic racism exists across all our institutions and that includes law enforcement,” said Democratic State Rep. Jesse Johnson from Federal Way.

The panel also includes state lawmakers with their new bills to tackle police reform.

“We want our officers to be able to step in, stop wrong doing from occurring, if they’re not able to step in, to stop, they have a requirement to report regardless,” said Democratic State Sen. Manka Dhingra, who represents the eastside of King County.

In addition to a duty to intervene or report, some of the bills address police tactics which include tighter restrictions on chokeholds and broadening the circumstances in which an officer can be certified. Gov. Inslee is also pushing for legislation to create the Office of Independent Investigations to focus on investigating excessive force by police.

“Preparing a large number of bills that together I think are going to work as package to make a real difference in terms of accountability,” said State Sen. Jamie Pederson, a Democrat representing Seattle.

Pederson says I-940, which makes it easier to prosecute police officers for excessive use of force, was a significant step forward but more needs to be done.

“We’re a long way from having the kind of accountability for misbehavior that we need in the system,” Pederson added.