Police support bill to roll back restrictions on pursuits

Opponents of the 2021 pursuit law blame the law for an increase in car thefts.

OLYMPIA, Wash. – Citing an increase in crime such as car theft, sheriffs, sheriffs, mayors and representatives from several law enforcement organizations encouraged House members on Tuesday to lift restrictions for police pursuits.

In 2021, the state passed legislation restricting the pursuit of crimes involving violence, sex or drunken driving and only when police have evidence the crime has occurred.

House Bill 1363 would restore a police officer’s ability to pursue someone when the officer has a “probable cause” that a crime has occurred, a lower standard than under current law.

Members from several law enforcement agencies who supported the move told House members that criminals were taking advantage of the fact that they would not be pursued.

“What we’ve learned over the last 18 months is policy, we didn’t get it right,” said Jeff DeVere from the Washington Coalition of Police and Sheriffs. “We found that even in jurisdictions that do not have a chase policy, there is a significant increase in the number of people not stopping for simple traffic violations,” DeVere said.

Those who helped the law pass in 2021 testified against the measure.

Leslie Cushman, from the Washington Police Accountability Coalition, said: “I would ask that you keep this law in place.

“I ask each of you to think about losing a child, spouse or parent to a suspect who is recklessly driving through your neighborhood and being chased by the police. there needs to be a really good reason to engage in a high-stakes chase and I think the current law is correct,” Cushman said.

The House bill received support from Democrats and Republicans. But if it is removed from the House of Representatives, its fate in the Senate is uncertain.

A similar bill submitted to the Senate did not go to trial at the Judiciary and Legal Affairs Committee.

The chair of the committee, Senator Manka Dhingra, D-Redmond, said she did not believe the policy of pursuit had led to an increase in crime. She supports a bill for law enforcement and community members to research the issue.

https://www.king5.com/article/news/local/police-support-roll-back-restrictions-on-pursuits/281-1d6f32ff-c2f5-4ea9-8a45-c7420260631b Police support bill to roll back restrictions on pursuits

Edmund DeMarche

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