Some of our members may wish to keep abreast of proposed legislation regarding police involvement with the mentally ill. We post this submission from Lynn Grotsky of LICSW for information purposes only. WMHCA doesn't officially endorse a position regarding this issue.
The Washington Mental Health Counselors Association has been asked to endorse draft legislation on the use of deadly force. The draft proposal comes to us from the Black Alliance of Thurston County. The BATC was formed in response to the May 21, 2015 shooting of two black men in Olympia. The BATC has a number of goals, one of which is to change the law on the use of deadly force, RCW 9A.16.040.
When police officers shoot someone who is firing a gun at them or clearly putting others in extreme danger, people understand that and are able to come to terms with it. However, when there are shootings of a person being pulled out of their car and shot, or killed for having what appears to be a small knife and walking away from an officer, family, friends and the WA public are often outraged and traumatized with basically no recourse. This is because our present laws make it virtually impossible to charge a police officer that shoots someone. Mental Health clients, many of them People of Color and other marginalized populations, who were mistreated by police are triggered time and time again by hearing about these incidents and justice not being served.