State AG: mandatory declaration of murderous use of force “long ago”


The public and state legislators should have easy access to data on the use of lethal force by police.

So says Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who today released a report outlining the reforms and calling for more transparency in reporting about incidents where police unload their guns or are involved in incidents resulting in death or serious injury.

A 13-page report from Ferguson calls for the creation of a website with easy-to-understand information on such incidents. He also calls on lawmakers to require law enforcement agencies to report all uses of lethal force under an FBI program created last year. It’s voluntary, and the Ferguson office says that right now, only 10 percent of Washington police departments participate.

Other reforms include auditing data at the state level, and that armed personnel who are not law enforcement officers, such as private security officers, be required to report the use of lethal force through the Licensing Department.

You can read the full report. State lawmakers requested the Ferguson’s office recommendations last year. But it also follows Ferguson’s announcement that he will look at 30 cases this year alone in which police have injured or killed people.

“It is extremely important that for cases like this we have full transparency to the public,” he told KNKX last week. “This way the public knows there is a responsibility and individuals can draw their own conclusions about what happened.”

A spokesperson for the Washington Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police Association said in a statement to KNKX that the nonprofit has supported a similar policy for more than three years.

“Building a statewide database of incidents involving lethal force has been a top legislative priority since 2017,” Barbara Smith wrote in an email. “Now that the Attorney General has released this report, we look forward to his active support for this legislation. The creation of this database is long overdue.

It will be up to the legislature and the governor to act on Ferguson’s latest recommendations.


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