By Steve Pomper
It’s not unusual to see law enforcement agencies hiring non-law enforcement applicants for support positions. However, it is unusual to see what Lewis County, Washington residents recently read in The Daily Chronicle: “Sheriff’s Office Needs Non-Law Enforcement Members for Shooting Investigation Group.” Chills just ran up every cop’s spine.
The Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is advertising for two civilians to join law enforcement personnel on a team responsible for investigating officer-involved shootings (OIS). Not because they want to but because they have to. The CIITs will be comprised of “qualified and certified peace officer investigators, civilian crime scene specialists, and at least two non-law enforcement community representatives.”
Voters passed I-940, which resulted in a Washington Administrative Code (WAC 139-12), Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act. You’ll notice the “neutral” ballot title, which Washington law requires. I mean, who’s going to vote against officer training and safety?
Cop-hating activists continually fabricate strawman arguments to promote their anti-police bias. For example, when cops and their supporters legitimately oppose initiatives such as I-940, with changes that will affect officers more than anyone else, change advocates accuse them of being “against reform.”
And there’s the problem. They say they want reform as if the existing manner of law enforcement is objectively flawed. If that were the case, everyone would agree on the need for reform, but statistics show this law is pure political partisanship.
Initiative supporters don’t want reform; they want a total dismantling and reconfiguration of policing. Only this time they want law enforcement based not on equal justice (as the Constitution mandates) but on social justice (which only stupidity mandates). They want to fundamentally transform the criminal justice system in the United States of America (sound familiar?). They don’t want to “improve” it.
The instinctive response for officers is to prefer cops (from whatever agency) to review their uses of force because of the experience factor. Cops have similar experiences, have been similarly trained, and have an understanding as to what the officer faced. Most civilians don’t.
How will it be for officers when civilians who’ve been marinating in anti-cop bias are investigating them? Especially, those civilians likely to be selected for CIITs in politically anti-police asylums like Seattle.
Aside from mandating two civilians serve on each shooting investigation team, the new law lowered the standard for prosecuting and convicting police officers whose use of force is alleged to be excessive or otherwise improper.
On the run up to the vote in 2018, I wrote an article about I-940 (WAC 139-12) from a cop’s perspective. I wrote, “To the contrary, I-940 is an example of the alliance between anti-cop leftist community groups and leftist government. Just consider the clearly biased official title of I-940 relative to the real-world effect the act would have on law:
“PART I, NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. This act may be known and cited as the law enforcement training and community safety act .
“Who, reading this title on their ballot, wouldn’t vote for it? I’d vote for it. Nothing in the title reflects the negative consequences to public safety. Talk about a de-policing initiative. What would I-940 proponents have said if the initiative had been titled ‘The law enforcement officer prosecution act?’” Which the new law may as well be called.
After all, the new WAC also changes the standard for officers using lethal force from “reasonable” to “necessary.” Now, you may not see a gap between the two words, but I see a wide chasm. For example, let’s say your car’s gas tank is not empty, but you go to the gas station and fill it, even though you’re not going on a long trip. It’s still reasonable, right? You had your valid reasons for doing it.
But was it necessary? Probably not. It would be necessary if you’re on empty or if you are going on a long trip. In the case of the new WAC, the difference between reasonable and necessary could be the difference between a cop’s freedom and prison.
So, here we have a situation where an investigator could believe the officer had acted reasonably but that his or her actions were not necessary. But how do you know that if you weren’t there, in that position? Does the earned benefit of the doubt a cop’s oath confers play any role any longer?
Investigators and juries may be required to consider only what the officer knew at the time, which affects what was both reasonable and necessary. But, no one can change that they are assessing things after the fact with none of the adrenaline-pounding conditions the officer faced.
So, now, people antagonistic toward police officers no longer have to determine if what the officer did was reasonable for a cop in a particular circumstance. Now, they may make a narrower, subjective determination about whether the force was necessary, according to, in some cases, biased, anti-cop viewpoints.
I guarantee we’ll be hearing much more about this issue. Washington is not the only state implementing these changes. It’s likely we’ll be hearing about it from the U.S. Supreme Court. Recently, I’ve been writing about a police officer in Oklahoma who is being treated according to Washington’s warped standards.
And this is without his state officially adopting such changes. In that officer’s case, it’s a rogue DA. Just imagine if Oklahoma had adopted Washington standards. The officer would be in a worse situation.
Hopefully, SCOTUS can repair the havoc the anti-law and order forces are wreaking on American law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, we are likely to hear about it only after officers are persecuted/prosecuted by anti-cop, second-guessers, just for doing their jobs.
Meanwhile, the newspaper ad seeking to hire non-law enforcement personnel at the Lewis County Sheriff’s Office is a visceral, initial demonstration of a continuing attack by anti-police activists against the state’s hard-working officers, deputies, agents, and troopers.
We have to remember, the people who supported I-940, simply don’t like how the cops conduct law enforcement (when it is done correctly). They hope to hire for the CIITs non-law enforcement candidates sympathetic to their anti-police viewpoint. They certainly didn’t use deception to get law passed, making it easier to prosecute cops, just to help the cops.
All officers and their supporters should keep in mind that these anti-cop folks are damaging the law enforcement profession. And we see how much elections matter when people elect anti-police politicians who bend and break rules to get their agendas implemented.
After a high-profile incident, officers should remember, it’s not that the anti-cop faction doesn’t like what those cops did; it’s that they don’t like what all cops do.