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Gov. Inslee proposes state office to investigate police use of force

Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing to create a state office focused on investigating excessive force by police.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing to create a state office focused on investigating excessive force by police. 

The Office of Independent Investigations was proposed by a task force that was established following the deaths of George Floyd in Minneapolis and Manuel Ellis in Tacoma.

The majority of the task force members, according to Inslee's office, "held strong views that the state must create a new, independent agency to conduct police use of force investigations." 

Inslee will request legislation during the 2021 session to create the office. An advisory board will provide input into staffing and operations.

The budget, according to Inslee's office, includes $26 million from the general fund for prosecutions that result from any of the investigations.

The proposal comes as Inslee enters his third term in office, "putting renewed emphasis on equity as a significant priority." 

"He will work to eliminate the systemic racial disparities that exist in different aspects of life, and improve social equity across the state," according to his office.

Earlier this year, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson launched an inquiry into investigations of police use of deadly force, following issues into the investigation into Ellis' death.

Ferguson's office identified at least 30 law enforcement investigations from 2020 that qualify. Some of the investigations are complete and some are ongoing, according to the Attorney General’s Office.

The inquiry was prompted by a conflict of interest in the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department’s investigation into the death of Ellis, a Black man who died in handcuffs while being restrained by Tacoma police in March.

Inslee also will use the press conference to say he is in favor of making Juneteenth a legal state holiday, commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S.

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