We’re not done pursuing a fix to police pursuit law
This article is republished here courtesy of Change Washington.
While current state law unbelievably still does not allow police to vehicularly pursue most criminal suspects, we’re pursuing a fix to it this legislative session – and we need your help to make it happen.
It’s evidently clear the 2021 law prohibiting law enforcement from going after suspects has been a disaster for public safety. A study purporting to show a massive decline in vehicular fatalities resulting from a police chase has been debunked. Meanwhile, last month alone there were 2,512 vehicle thefts in King and Pierce counties, and the 2022 figures for that same time period were roughly the same. There have also been repeated instances of officers unable to go after suspects because the law handicapped them. More than 3,000 suspects have fled Washington State Patrol officers since the 2021 law took effect.
Yet, key legislators such as Sen. Manka Dingra (D) are doubling down on a false narrative and refusing to allow bipartisan proposals to fix the police pursuit law so much as a public hearing. The House companion bill received a Jan. 31 public hearing and was scheduled for a committee vote Feb. 9, but Chair Roger Goodman (D) yanked the bill at the last minute. Currently, no further action on the bill is scheduled.
As part of the legislative process, most bills have to pass out of their original committee by Feb. 17, or else it’s considered “dead.” That means if HB 1363 doesn’t get voted out of committee by next Friday, we will have to wait another year before we get another chance to fix this flawed law.
Make Your Voice Heard!
Submit public comment on HB 1363 and SB5352. Make sure to select your position as Support and in the comment section tell the committee chair to hold a hearing on this critical bill.
Meanwhile, the majority party is advancing SB 5533 and HB 1586, which on paper sets up a government panel to “study” the issue, but in reality would just delay taking any meaningful action to remedy the public safety crisis we’re experiencing.
We can’t wait another year to act. bipartisan legislation like HB 1363 is not radical in their scope or proposal. They take us back to a normal, rational form of policing.
The amazing thing is that state lawmakers are stalling on this when even Gov. Jay Inslee has stated publicly he would support changes to police pursuits.
If the most prominent leader of the majority party that controls the House, Senate, and executive branch is in favor of fixing this, so should committee chairs that are deliberately stymieing legislation that would do just that.