Following a surge in instances of suspects alluding police during traffic stops, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn on Thursday introduced legislation requesting King County to develop new guidelines around police vehicular pursuits and advocate for those guidelines to be implemented at the state level.
Following a surge in instances of suspects eluding police during traffic stops, King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn on Thursday introduced legislation requesting King County to develop new guidelines around police vehicular pursuits and advocate for those guidelines to be implemented at the state level.
“The State Legislature made a bad policy decision, and communities across Washington are having to deal with the very real and dangerous consequences,” Dunn said. “It would be irresponsible to sit back and give active criminals the option to simply ignore law enforcement stops. King County must begin conversations at the state level about how we can fix this failed law for the safety and protection of everyday, law-abiding folks.”
After Washington State House Bill 1054 was approved, imposing strict rules on when law enforcement is allowed to pursue a vehicle, King County saw a massive increase in suspects refusing to stop for law enforcement. According to data provided by the King County Sheriff’s Office, there were approximately 240 incidents of King County Sheriff’s deputies not being able to pursue fleeing suspects during January to May of this year, which is a 175% increase from the same time frame in 2021 and the same number of incidents that occurred in all of last year. A potential bipartisan fix to this law, State Senate Bill 5919, was introduced during the state’s recent legislative session, yet after passing the State Senate and House, failed to get a final vote.
“King County has long had a pursuit policy that balanced the importance of public service, restraint, training, and supervision — but this changed when the State Legislature unilaterally banned the appropriate use of vehicular pursuits, creating today’s environment that permits drivers to disobey law enforcement and making the public less safe,” said Teresa Taylor, Executive Director of Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs. “King County now has an opportunity to bring data and experience to bear and help lead the state back to thoughtful public safety policy.”
If passed, Dunn’s legislation would task King County with engaging with the Sheriff’s Office and cities that contract with the Sheriff’s Office for law enforcement services to develop a set of agreed-upon state policy proposals that would aim to reverse the spike in failures to stop. The resulting policies would be included in King County’s 2023 State Legislative Agenda, which defines the legislative items that the County will advocate for in Olympia. A report on the policy proposals, as well as a thorough study on how state laws have impacted the Sheriff’s Office response to fleeing suspects and crimes in progress, would be due to the King County Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services committee no later than September 6 of this year.
Dunn’s legislation will referred to the Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee.