Bi-Partisan Legislators Agree-Police Pursuits Need to Return
Following a sweeping list of 'police reform' bills desired by Gov. Inslee, passed by Democratic majorities in the state house and senate, then signed into law in 2021, now legislators are thinking twice.
A new house bill would restore a lot of leeway to law enforcement
As far back as last summer, news sources report Washington state's crime rates, especially for violent crime, rose over 12 percent. One of the issues facing officers was the inability to engage in vehicle pursuits of wanted suspects.
Last July, The Center Square reports Washington State Patrol troopers had nearly 1,000 suspects they pulled over for various reasons just drive away from them, and they were not able to pursue.
Now, House Bill (HB) 1363 would change much of that. According to information released by GOP House Communications Coordinator John Sattgast, GOP House Rep Eric Robertson has joined with House Democratic Rep Alicia Rule to change the premise of pursuits from probable cause to reasonable suspicion.
Before the 2021 law enforcement restrictions, all an officer needed to pursuit or even detain a suspect was a reasonable level of suspicion that they were the wanted person for a crime. But the new bills changed that to probable cause, which requires a much higher threshold of evidence. In hundreds of cases, probable cause was not feasible because there had not been an opportunity to investigate the incident.
HB 1363 will allow law enforcement to pursue and apprehend, based upon as-it-happens real-time evidence. To see the bill, click here.
HB 1363 and its Senate companion, SB 5352, have a list of well-known Democratic legislators who have joined GOP leaders to support the plan.