The Washington state legislature is looking over a proposed bill that could make significant changes to the use of deadly force in law enforcement.

House Bill 1529, and it's Senate Companion, would make a number of changes to how the law is applied to officers who are involved in shootings. The most notable change would be the removal of the "malice or good faith" clause from statutes.

Currently, officers are shielded from prosecution unless it can be clearly shown they acted with "malice" or without "good faith".  HB 1529 would remove that clause, and according to the text of the bill, would bring Washington in line with other states that reportedly don't have that clause either.

Some of the other parts of the bill would require the following:

  • "establish channels for community input into police practices, and robust independent civilian oversight of such practices (police practices).
  • "require new recruits to meet with citizen advisory boards"
  • "alternatives to arrests or citations where appropriate"
  • and, if funding available, tracking data of police activity will be collected and "monitor trends that may indicate disparate impacts on minority communities."

Supporters say it's a better way to improve safety and community relations and build trust with citizens, one section of the bill is entitled "Modern Policing."  Critics say this legislation is a direct offshoot of the Zambrano fatal shooting in Pasco, and others that have occurred. They say it's an indirect attempt to handicap police and their authority and enforcement capability.

The bill is currently going through committees in Olympia.

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