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Lawmakers Discuss How to Keep Officers Accountable When Using Deadly Force

Jeanie Lindsay
Northwest News Network
The House Public Safety Committee heard emotional testimonies from supporters and critics on bills involving the use of deadly force by police.

At a hearing in Olympia Tuesday, citizens supporting a pair of bills in the Washington legislature involving the use of deadly force by police said it’s too hard to keep law enforcement officers accountable. But some officers who showed up to testify said it’s not a change of legal language that's needed.

Deputy Darell Stidham, said the problem lies in a lack of training.

“Once we leave the academy, the amount of training that is provided is up to each individual agency,” Stidham said. “With the budget cuts that’s the first thing to go.”

He also noted how officers receive instruction.

“Some of that training is simply watching a video, and that is not appropriate,” Stidham said.

Many people who testified were in favor of passing both bills and emphasized the need for changing the legal requirements for a conviction.

Washington state has the only law in the nation requiring prosecutors to prove an officer who used deadly force acted with ill-intent, or “malice.”

Officers expressed their opposition to cutting those legal protections out. They worried their removal could make cops hesitant to use the right amount of force when needed.

Lawmakers said they have more work to do on both bills before scheduling another hearing.