Independent Investigation Team (IIT)

With the passage of Washington State Initiative 940 and SHB 1064, incidents where the use of deadly force by a peace officer results in death, substantial bodily harm, or great bodily harm, require an independent investigation.

Background On New Legislation

In 2015, the U.S. Department of Justice issued a final report from the 21st Century Task Force on Policing. A core focus of that report addressed strategies for improving relationships, increasing community engagement, and fostering cooperation. The report recommended clear and comprehensive policies on the use of force, training on the importance of de-escalation, crisis intervention and mental health, the provision of first aid, and recommended external and independent investigations in officer involved shootings resulting in injury or death.

In November 2018, Washington State Initiative 940 was passed by Washington State voters, and in 2019 the Washington State legislature passed SHB 1064 and incorporated those recommendations. The Washington Administrative Codes (WACs) (https://apps.leg.wa.gov/wac/default.aspx?cite=139-12-010) implemented the requirement of an Independent Investigation Team that is completely independent of the involved agency in incidents where the use of deadly force by a peace officer results in death, substantial bodily harm, or great bodily harm. The goal of this requirement is to enhance accountability and increase trust between law enforcement and the community to improve the legitimacy of policing for an increase in safety for everyone.

Independent Investigation 

There are five principles that are fundamental to enhancing public trust in the integrity of independent investigations involving police use of deadly force:

  • Independence
  • Transparency
  • Communication
  • Credible process
  • Credible investigators

The Law Enforcement Training and Community Safety Act (LETCSA), formerly known as I-940 or SHB 1064, has been signed into law by the Governor and is now in the hands of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission (CJTC).  The Commission must create and adopt “rules” to establish training requirements (including first aid) and establish criteria for independent investigations of police deadly force incidents. Information on LETCSA can be found at: https://cjtc.wa.gov/letcsa/training-overview.

Independent Investigation Team (IIT)

Will consist of a team of qualified and certified peace officer investigators, civilian crime scene specialists, and at least two non-law enforcement community representatives who operate completely independent of any involved agency to conduct investigations of police deadly force incidents. An IIT is created when multiple law enforcement agencies enter into a written agreement to investigate police use of deadly force incidents in their geographical regions. A single law enforcement agency may fulfill the independent investigative function, provided it is not the involved agency.

Timeline

  • June 2019, the CJTC developed and adopted de-escalation training rules to include conducting 80-hour “Train the Trainers” classes around the state so regional agency trainers can conduct the first 24 hours of “De-escalation Training” locally, using local staff.
  • September/October 2019: CJTC hosted public engagement meetings across the state to gather input on Independent Investigations criteria (Vancouver meeting held Sept 24, 2019).
  • December 2019, the CJTC developed and adopted the rules establishing the criteria for the Independent Investigations of police deadly force incidents.
  • December 2019, all Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy (BLEA) students will receive 200 hours of violence de-escalation, mental health training and patrol tactics training as part of their basic training.
  • January 5, 2020, all new rules took effect.
  • February 2020, law enforcement agencies in Clark and Skamania Counties sent staff to participate in  the de-escalation “train the trainers” class and are currently forming and recruiting for the members of the IIT.
  • March 2020, law enforcement agencies in Clark and Skamania Counties will be recruiting for the IIT Non-Law Enforcement Community Representatives.

By December 2028, every incumbent Washington State certified peace officer must have completed 40 hours of de-escalation training, and every 3 years, each Washington State certified peace officer must complete 40-hours of de-escalation refresher training.

Updates to this project will be provided as new information becomes available.