YAKIMA, Wash.- Voters are saying yes to imposing harsher rules on our law enforcement. 59 percent of Washington voted yes to I-940, with most of the support in Western Washington.
This means prosecutors will no longer have to prove law-enforcement officers acted with malice or "evil intent" in court. It also requires an independent investigation when an officer uses deadly force, and mandates de-escalation and mental health training.
Our local departments will be the ones paying most of the fee's to pay for the extra training. Casey Schilperoort at the Yakima Sheriff's Department says many departments are already on a tight budget, and a lot of cities are going to take a financial hit.
"I think city and county administrators already know that they are going to have to fork out more money to agency's for this training at these new standards," said Schilperoort.
The Sheriff's Department has a training budget for 88 employees.
The Sheriff's Department 2018 budget was $11.8 million with a training budget of $68 thousand. In 2019 they will receive $12.8 million with a training budget of $74 thousand. Schilperoort says their budget is enough to cover the needs for the department, but when it comes to extra requirements, that's another story.
"Every year we get enough budget money to operate and pay for salaries, uniforms, vehicles, personal but the budget doesn't allow for extra things. If we want to spend more money of training, we might not have that in the budget," said Schilperoort.
Schilperoort says the funds for next year is all they'll get and won't receive a penny more from the county. So if they need more money they will have to take it out in other spending areas.
Schilperoort says since they are a bigger department, they won't have a tough time finding the money to meet state needs. As far as smaller police departments will lower budgets, Chief of Moxee Police Jeff Burkett says it will be tougher to come up with extra funds.
"I have a training budget that's pretty small. It's less than about 500 dollars per person a year to be able to get in all the other requirements from the state. So obviously any increase in that is going to effect me and my smaller budget pretty heavy," said Burkett.
The state hasn't announced how many more hours of training each officer will need, if every officer in the state had to spend 40 hours in training, it could cost a total of 12 million dollars.
Burkett is unsure of how much more money they will need to meet the new state standards. Although he feels this initiative isn't needed for the state, he says the department will figure out a way to adjust when the time comes.