Baldwin announces support for I-940, police ‘de-escalation’ initiative

RENTON, Wash. -- Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin announced Wednesday his support for a state initiative to de-escalate police interactions with community members.

"Today I want to announce my financial and public support for Initiative 940, this initiative aligns with my goals seeking solutions to bridge the gap between communities and law enforcement," Baldwin said during a news conference at the VMAC in Renton.

Baldwin said he supports I-940 to "provide our law enforcement with the proper training and resources required to meet their changing and demanding needs of their job."

He said it's not about being anti-police. In fact, Baldwin's father, Doug Sr., was a police officer for 35 years in Pensacola, Florida.

"You have to be empathetic. My father thinks that verbal judo was a saving grace for him in some situations," Baldwin said. "Some individuals might not think that. But maybe there's another technique that they think is beneficial to them."

According to the initiative's web site, I-940 would "require law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental-health, and first-aid training, and provide first-aid; and change standards for use of deadly force, adding a “good faith” standard and independent investigation."

On Tuesday, the group De-Escalate Washington said they were confident Initiative 940 would get on the ballot next year. But just to make sure, the group will continue their campaign until they get 350,000 signatures.

Supporters say I-940 would require police officers to get 40 hours of training to learn how to de-escalate crisis situations.

Certain police departments, like Seattle’s, already require officers to get that amount of training. But the group says they want it statewide.

“We want to prevent shootings so we want to implement more de-escalation training,” De-escalate Washington campaign manager Riall Johnson said.

But the core of the initiative is about changing state law.

Right now, the courts have to prove malice to prosecute police officers who are involved in fatal shootings.

The group needs about 260,000 valid signatures to get the issue on the Nov. 2018 ballot. They plan to turn in about 35 boxes with signatures to the Secretary of State’s Office on December 28.