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New WA bill would outlaw CHOP zones and withdrawal of police services

Demands from protesters inside the CHOP. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

State Senator Steve O’Ban (R-University Place) is introducing legislation that would essentially prohibit cities in Washington state from allowing another CHOP/CHAZ to occupy city streets or creating places where cops and other services find it difficult to venture.

Could something like this pass in the state of Washington?

“I don’t have to remind your audience of the tremendous travesty of CHAZ that started with the police withdrawing from the East Precinct, and then withdrawing police services at the city’s and mayor’s insistence from the CHAZ area, making it all but impossible for them to do their basic law enforcement responsibilities,” O’Ban said on the Jason Rantz Show.

“It was a profound form of dysfunction in city leadership. I was extremely disappointed too with the governor, and didn’t speak into that issue at all. And so the bill would say that if the city should ever try to do that again — withdraw law enforcement and other basic essential services — that the the city would lose certain state funding that has to do with assistance for law enforcement and criminal justice services.”

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The bill would also subject the city to a $10,000 per day fine, and make it legally easier for property owners to sue a city that withdrew its police services and caused damages.

If it passed, what leeway would a city have in addressing things at a local level in a reasonable amount of time?

“Before a levy or fine could be made against the city or funds withdrawn from that city, there’d have to be a finding from a court or from the legislature that the city intentionally withdrew those essential services, so they have more than enough time to remedy the situation,” he said.

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As Jason noted, at the time, Police Chief Carmen Best said there was no no-cop zone at CHOP, though many felt that evidence suggested otherwise. But how then do you prove that services were withdrawn intentionally since it wasn’t being acknowledged?

“I think your listeners would say there was plenty of evidence that there was a willful withdrawal of police, notwithstanding Chief Best and the pressure she was under to try to explain away, was something that was there for all eyes to see,” he said.

“So it wouldn’t just be a matter of what the police chief said, it would be a matter of evidence, and I think the evidence is overwhelming that that’s what the city did — they withdrew police.”

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3 – 6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here.

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