Seahawks' Baldwin speaks to legislative panel on police deadly force, urges changes

Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin spoke to a legislative panel on police deadly force on Monday, Nov. 21, 2016, urging them to remove the words 'malice' and 'good faith' from the law that protects officers from prosecution. (Photo: KOMO News)

OLYMPIA, Wash. - A special panel on police lethal force narrowly has passed a recommendation from Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin that would make it easier to prosecute officers.

The law states: "A public officer or peace officer shall not be held criminally liable for using deadly force without malice and with a good faith belief that such act is justifiable pursuant to this section.

On Monday, after testimony from Baldwin, the panel in Olympia voted 14 to 10 in favor of eliminating the words 'malice' and 'good faith' from the law that protects police.

Baldwin said being the son of a career police officer in Florida, he cares deeply about police and community relations.

"He knew that when people were running away from danger in fear, he had to run to it with courage," Baldwin said during his testimony in front of the panel.

Baldwin also told members of the task force that he understands the need to balance community safety with holding police accountable when a life is taken. But, he supported the proposal to eliminate the word 'malice' and to better define the words, 'good faith.'

"It is not only the logical thing to do, it's the right thing to do," Baldwin told the panel.

Several members of the task force agreed with him.

Others, mainly from law enforcement, didn't see any need to change the law, and said it's fine the way it is and changing it might have a chilling effect on officers.

After meeting with the panel, Baldwin said he was glad he could add to the serious discussion.

"I felt like I had an opportunity to impact change and let my voice be heard and my thoughts be heard," said Baldwin.

The panel's recommendation to take out the words 'malice' and 'good faith' now goes to the state legislature for review.

There's also an initiative drive tackling the same thing. Initiative-873 would let voters decide if the words 'malice' and 'good faith' should be taken out of the deadly force law.

Baldwin has already met Seattle mayor Ed Murray and police chief Kathleen O'Toole after calling for a review of police training policies back in September.

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