Seahawk Doug Baldwin throws support behind Initiative 940 aimed at improvingpolice de-escalation training

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin on Wednesday announced he is supporting I-940, aimed at improving police de-escalation tactics.

Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin on Wednesday announced he will offer public and financial support to state Initiative 940, which is aimed at improving training and methods for improving training for police de-escalation.

Specifically, 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.” It would also require police officers to get 40 hours of training on how to defuse “crisis” situations.

Supporters have said they are confident they will get the necessary 350,000 signatures to get on the ballot in 2018. But Baldwin’s support comes at a critical time as the deadline to get the necessary signatures is Dec. 29.

Baldwin, whose father was a police officer for 36 years, has made de-escalation a focus of his off-field efforts and he has met with police and other community leaders throughout the past year.

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Baldwin explained his support for I-940 as he met the media at Seahawks’ headquarters Wednesday in Renton.

“As all of you know, I’ve spent the past year and a half, two years now working on things in our communities with the intent of bridging the gap between law enforcement and our communities,” Baldwin said. “As a human, I feel extremely compelled to use my platform and my influence in whatever way for the benefit and not just for my sole benefit. With that being said, last September, I embarked on a journey to find ways to bridge the gap between the law enforcement and our communities, I spent countless hours speaking to community leaders, public officials, members of our law enforcement community, politicians, technology companies, and a number of other groups that had any type of hand in this topic.

“Although these issues spread to communities across our country, I’ve decided to focus my immediate influence and attention right here in the state of Washington in which I live in an attempt to create a model for similar efforts across the country. Here in Washington State, I’ve supported efforts to provide our law enforcement with the proper training and resources required to meet their changing and demanding needs of their job. In doing so, I feel that the community and the law enforcement relationship will gratefully benefit from a renewed sense of responsibility and accountability.”

Baldwin said he was supporting I-940 because it “aligns with my goals and in seeking solutions to bridge the gap between the communities and the law enforcement. The main components of this initiative are A: to provide up-to-date de-escalation training with the continuing program for our new and current law enforcement. B: to provide current and up-to-date and a continuing program for our current and future law enforcement in dealing and responding with mental health issues. C: to require law enforcement to render first-aid when applicable, and D: to adopt an objective standard definition of good faith.”

“. … There has been some disparity and the understanding of what good faith means, so this initiative would eliminate the confusion of good faith in the regards to use of deadly force. It’s been my desire to support efforts to aim at healing the relationship between law enforcement and the community, so I believe that this initiative is the step in the right direction.”

Baldwin said he would let those organizing the Initiative announce his level of financial support.

Baldwin also addressed a few other questions about his support for I-940:

On how he came upon putting mental health in this initiative with most initiatives aren’t looking at that: “I didn’t add it to this initiative, but it’s been something that’s been part of the conversation for a long time. We’ve had a number of instances or situations that have happened here in the state of Washington; use of deadly force, which have also included issues of mental health. We thought that, or I thought that personally, that that was something that was needed to be included in any initiative that I supported, and this initiative obviously had that included, so I think that that is vitally important as well.”

On how he saw conversations change over the course of time that he engaged with these different parties: “Well, the longer that we spoke with people, I think the more they became empathetic to the other point of view as well. I give a lot of credit to the individuals and the organizations that we spoke to; they might have come in with an agenda at first thinking that we were on one side of it, but I thought that we did a great job of showing that we’re just trying to learn as much as possible and that we’re not trying to pass judgement on anything, but that we’re just trying to be empathetic ourselves. Once we engaged in that way, I felt like the reciprocal of that was also empathy and understanding. It’s been a very pleasant journey; obviously, it’s had its ups and downs, but the interactions and the conversations that we’ve had with people have been very empathetic.”

On how much his dad has framed his viewpoint going into these conversations: “Yeah, they’ve been a huge influence because obviously, my father being a law enforcement officer for thirty-six years, I understand the difficulties and the dangers that come with his job. I understand the inerrant risks, so I don’t want to take away from that. We never wanted to take away from that; we understood that this was a very serious topic to be addressing. However, it’s not necessarily trying to take anything away from what they’re doing; this initiative and the initiatives that we’ve supported in the past have always been about giving our law enforcement more resources and more training, so they can adapt to the dynamic job that they have. The communities are changing and our society is changing, and sometimes I feel like our law enforcement and the public services don’t have enough resources to keep up with the changes that we see in our society. This initiative, I believe, directly addresses that issue.”

On the conversations that he has had along this journey and if he has learned anything from the opposing sides: “Yeah; there’s so many different perspectives and there are so many different training strategies and techniques, and it’s all different state-to-state from county-to-county, so there’s a lot of information to unravel and unpack. Learning just from my father, what he grew up in, which was verbal judo, is completely different than what officers his same age grew up in here in the state of Washington, or in Colorado or in California. It’s all the same sediment in terms of trying to make it a safer environment for the law enforcement and for the community that they interact with. Again, that’s what this initiative is all about; it’s furthering that so that the safety and the importance of that is at the forefront. What I’ve learned more-so is that you have to expand your thought process, you have to be empathetic because my father thinks that verbal judo was saving graces for him in some situations. Some individuals might not think that, but there’s another technique that they think is beneficial to them, so taking both of those and being able to collaborate for something that is beneficial for all, that’s been a huge part of it and a huge learning curve for me.”

On if this is an outline for something that he would like to see the NFL support: “Absolutely; and I think that they’ve done a great job from my communications with the NFL with Roger Goodell. They’ve been willing to offer their resources for us to do more research to understand more of what’s going on, on a political level, and then also offering their support. Obviously, the joint letter that I wrote with [Roger] Goodell, and they’ve continued the conversation. I know that the NFL is going to continue their support for causes and initiatives that players are passionate about, but I think this initiative and for me, it’s more-so focused on the state of Washington. Obviously, we’ll have internal discussions with the Seahawks organization and what that means moving forward.”

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