Seahawks receiver Doug Baldwin has spent more than a year working to bridge the gap between law enforcement and communities those agencies serve. From meeting with local law enforcement agencies and politicians, to visiting Olympia to address the Washington State Use of Deadly Force in Community Policing Joint Legislative Task Force, to co-writing a letter with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to the Senate Judiciary Committee calling for criminal justice reform, finding ways to bridge that gap has been an important cause for the son of a longtime law enforcement officer.
On Wednesday, Baldwin took another step towards trying to make a difference, announcing his public and financial support for Initiative 940, a measure that, according to deescalatewa.org, "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."
Baldwin explained his decision during a press conference Wednesday, saying, "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.
"Today, I want to announce my public and financial support for Initiative 940. This initiative 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. Now, you guys know that I spoke at Olympia last year and directly speaking towards this part of it as it pertains to Washington State law. 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. Again, today I am officially announcing my public and financial support for that initiative."
Baldwin noted that this initiative has bipartisan support, and as has been the case throughout this process, he wanted to reiterate that this cause is not anti-police, but rather one with a goal of helping police to better serve their communities. With Baldwin's father having spent more than three decades with the Pensacola Police Department, he has a unique resource to help frame his views as he pursues these issues.
"My father being a law enforcement officer for 36 years, I understand the difficulties and the dangers that come with his job," he said. "I understand the inherrant 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."
And regardless of where things go from here with Initiative 940, Baldwin, like plenty of his teammates, plans to keep using his platform to make a positive difference.
"The journey for positive change is never ending," he said. "I've always believed that progress is not a destination; it's a journey. For me, I don't know where I am in it, I just know that I feel compelled to use my influence and platform in whatever way, shape and form to initiate change in a positive way. Wherever that puts me, that's where I am."
Photos from Wednesday's practice at Virginia Mason Athletic Center as the Seahawks ready for their Week 14 matchup with the Jacksonville Jaguars at Everbank Field.