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Dear Friends and Neighbors,
According to the Washington Association of Police Chiefs, auto thefts in our state have increased by 93% since a number of new police “reform” measures went into effect in July, 2021. This has an impact on our communities as more and more criminals feel emboldened to commit crimes with little repercussions. Washington's police pursuit law was changed by Democrats in 2021. Criminals know they can steal cars with near impunity and not be chased by law enforcement.
We need to do two things to address the rise in auto thefts. First, we need to redirect resources for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of auto theft at the local level. My House Bill 1682 would do that by shifting the focus of the Washington Auto Theft Prevention Account to the local level and tightening the restrictions on what the account can be used for. Money in that account should ONLY be used for auto theft-related expenditures.
Secondly, we need to allow police to pursue criminals again. Law enforcement warned what would happen when the majority party in Olympia voted to enact the nation's strongest restrictions on vehicle pursuits, and they were right. In order to initiate a vehicle pursuit, law enforcement now needs to have “probable cause” that someone has committed a sexual or violent crime, or reasonable suspicion of a DUI. This is an extremely high bar. As a result, criminals are committing crimes, stealing cars, and fleeing with little to no concern of law enforcement intervention.
We need to change the police pursuit law back to the “reasonable suspicion” standard across the board for all police pursuits. I am supporting legislation in the House to make this change, and there appears to be bipartisan support. However, the sticking point may be in the Senate where one Puget Sound Senator is holding up the process. I'll keep you informed.
This week's survey question is: “Would you support legislation that allows law enforcement to pursue criminals again under the reasonable suspicion standard?” Click here to give your answer.
The results from last week's survey are below:
“Should the Legislature use the state's budget surplus for property tax relief?”
Telephone town hall
Don't forget to join us tonight for our 7th District telephone town hall. I'll be joined by Rep. Joel Kretz and Sen. Shelly Short from 6-7 p.m. You can call (509) 476-8976 anytime between about 5:45 and 7:00 tonight. If you have a question during our “Community Conversation,” just press the “star” key on your telephone keypad to be connected to the operator. We look forward to hearing from folks back home and connecting with you.
425B Legislative Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
(360) 786-7908 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000