This article was originally published on July 26, 2021. Looking back on this story, the effects of the so called “Police reform” bills has been devastating.
In the latest move against law enforcement, Washington state passed three bills further tying the hands of their local police departments.
New Police Reform Bills
Recently the House Bills 1054 and 1310 and Senate Bill 5476 became effective, changing how police officers in the state interact with suspects and citizens.
Pierce County Sheriff’s Department wrote in a Facebook post that under House Bill 1054, “the largest impact for our residents will be the changes to our ability to pursue after a suspect who is fleeing in a vehicle.”
The department’s post went on to highlight the changes stating they can pursue if, “there is “probable cause” to arrest a person in the vehicle for committing a specified violent crime or sex offense such as Murder, Kidnapping, Drive-By Shooting, or Rape.”
They also pointed out that, “This does not include property crimes such as Residential Burglary, Theft, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, or the most common domestic violence incidents including Domestic Violence Simple Assault, Violation of a No Contact or Protection Order, and Stalking.”
“The key part of this legislation is the state has moved the legal bar to pursue for a violent offense to ‘probable cause’ rather than ‘reasonable suspicion. For example, if a deputy sheriff was to respond to an armed robbery and the suspect vehicle was described as a blue F150 and a deputy saw a blue F150 driving at a high rate of speed in the same area as the robbery occurred, a law enforcement officer could still try to make a traffic stop this vehicle, however, if the suspect vehicle decides to flee we can no longer pursue it under House Bill 1054.”Snohomish County Sheriff Adam Fortney
House Bill 1310 restricts the amount of force officers can use, including prohibiting them from stopping a suspect seen fleeing a crime. According to Fortney, officers have to verify everything that happened first with witnesses, etc., before pursuing the offender.
The law also prohibits officers from holding someone in a mental health crisis. Unless there is an immediate threat of harm to someone, officers cannot detain the person.
The final significant change is that if the sheriffs call about people doing drugs, they can’t do anything about it. Now, they need to document the incidents and offer recovery assistance. On a third encounter, they can arrest the individual, and while in jail, they will be offered rehab or recovery options.