A new legislative task force has been created in Washington State to examine practices surrounding the use of lethal force by community law enforcement. Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, worked extensively with the Black Alliance of Thurston County, the House of Representatives, and Gov. Inslee’s office to pass the bill into law.

“The alarming number of increasing local and national high-profile incidents involving the use of lethal force was the inspiration for the task force,” said Fraser. “We will have a diverse group at the table to help identify alternatives and best practices so we are able to keep both law enforcement and members of the public safe from permanent harm.”

The joint legislative task force, created by the signing of House Bill 2908, will consist of 27 members and will include lawmakers, law enforcement groups, public defenders, and many advocacy groups representing the state’s communities of color.

Lethal force is the intentional application of force through the use of firearms or any other means reasonable likely to cause death or serious physical injury. Current state law authorizes the use of lethal force by officers in certain circumstances that is defined under statute. While it is not always the case, data shows the use of lethal force can often disproportionately impact people of color.

“This task force will help identify areas where we can improve relations between law enforcement and the public. It will also help answer the widespread concerns and many questions surrounding this issue in our state,” Fraser said.

The task force is required to submit a report to the Legislature on their findings by December 2016.