“Restore the police pursuit law so no family has to go through what mine did.”

“Restore the police pursuit law so no family has to go through what mine did.”

There are some laws that make it harder for good law enforcement officers to do their jobs well. Like the law here in our state that makes it illegal for police to pursue criminals driving away from the scene of the crime. When the police aren’t allowed to work to prevent violent crime, we end up with more crime and more innocent victims. 

The legislators who passed that no-pursuit law in 2021 have never had to count on the police to solve the murder of their child. My family and I have. I’m incredibly grateful for their hard work and dedication, and equally frustrated that some legislators are still standing by the law that got my daughter killed.

My 12-year-old daughter Immaculee was walking home one day when she and her friend Kathleen were struck by a stolen landscaping truck. Immaculee died instantly and Kathleen was left for dead but survived. The man who hit them should have been in jail for previous offenses but had been allowed to drive off multiple times in just a span of a few weeks because of this law. The police had him, but they had to let him go.

Supporters of the no-pursuit law say it was passed in the name of “safety.” Some supporters still say that there is no data saying the law is unsafe, so we do not need to restore the ability of police to help catch dangerous criminals. When they say that, they are ignoring Immaculee and Kathleen, the two children who were recently killed in Sunnyside by a driver who could have been stopped, and every other person killed or injured because the police weren’t allowed to stop a criminal. They are saying those people don’t even count as data. Opponents of restoring police pursuit are ignoring everything that doesn’t support what they want.

The truth is that there is data, but it shows that the no-pursuit law has made Washington less safe. The data they used to pass this law have been debunked but the law still hasn’t been changed. I wish people would just look beyond party lines to see and hear us as people. I know it takes bravery, but that’s how you keep people safe. 

Doing the right thing matters. Public safety matters. But some Washington lawmakers are still in favor of laws that protect the criminals and not our children, businesses or law-abiding citizens. They need to start prioritizing public safety and stop being scared. to do the right thing. If they really want to support our most vulnerable citizens, then they need to vote for laws that help keep streets safe so that children, pedestrians, and small business owners can have the full protection of the law. They need to know they can call the police and the perpetrators will be pursued.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works in our state. Two years ago, a bad law was passed which makes it almost impossible for police to pursue dangerous criminals. Not surprisingly, auto thefts and hit-and-run accidents are skyrocketing. 

​​Who does this no-pursuit law really benefit? Not the hard-working police officers who put their lives on the line every day. Not law-abiding citizens who trust that legislators are making laws that will allow our community to flourish. Maybe it benefits legislators who live in safe areas and can vote based on what’s fashionable. It definitely benefits criminals who know that all they have to do when they’re caught is drive away. 

And they do know. Criminals have been known to call 911 to report that they’re being pursued to make sure the police let them go. They know they have a free pass. 

It feels like everyone who is standing by this law, everyone who wants to make it impossible for the police to stop criminals before something terrible happens, is prioritizing criminals over my daughter. It’s just not right.

Immaculee was a victim of this terrible law, and the new/current version of the bill in the state legislature wouldn’t protect her, either. That version has passed the Senate and is now being considered by the House, but it won’t prevent future tragedies. We need to reinstate the original version of SB 5352/HB 1363, nothing less. 

Safety is on the line, so we don’t have time to waste. How many lives will be lost if only this half-measure is passed? How many other families will never be whole again?

Her death clearly should have been – and could have been –  prevented. My family – including my husband and my daughter’s seven siblings – suffered horrendously, and we will suffer until my dying day because the police were not able to pursue a known criminal, caught with stolen property, and place him in jail where he wouldn’t be a danger to the community.

I’m trying to protect others if I can. This isn’t about politics; this is about the lives of Washingtonians. Let’s make sure no other family has to go through what we did. Protect your family and community by calling your legislator today and demanding they restore vehicular pursuit and the original form of SB 5352/1363 that had bi-partisan support. Make your voice heard so we can prevent another family from having to endure a tragedy as mine did.

Amber Goldade lives in Pierce County with her husband and seven children and has never been involved in legislative affairs before the death of her child.

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