KTTH

With suspension of jury trials, Whatcom among ‘top places in state for property crime,’ says prosecutor

Mar 29, 2022, 12:43 PM | Updated: 12:44 pm
crime...
(Flickr Creative Commons)
(Flickr Creative Commons)

While Seattle and Tacoma hold notoriety when it comes to recently reported spikes in crime, a third Western Washington city by the sea has borne the brunt of its own crime surge only deepened over the pandemic.

Year over year, Bellingham experienced a 300% increase in car thefts in the early parts of 2022, the Bellingham Herald reports. Those statistics tell a story, says Whatcom County Prosecutor Eric Richey.

“We’re seeing a lot of property crime, a lot of, well, we’re seeing all sorts of crimes, property crime increases have been staggering in our community,” Richey told KTTH’s Jason Rantz.

“There have been some statistics that have been telling us that we are one of the top places in the state for the increases in property crime, and that is not OK. Our community is concerned about it, and prosecutors are concerned about it. Something needs to change.”

Richey attributes the problem to two primary factors: the first of which is that COVID-era restrictions on jury trials have lessened community accountability, which has emboldened criminals.

“People were being booked and released … Then there’s also COVID, causing a suspension of jury trials. That stopped us from providing any accountability for someone who might have been convicted of a crime. We just had no accountability for [them].”

An illustrative, recent example of that idea in practice is the report that a Blaine man “kicked in the front doors of two occupied homes and fought with a resident” just hours after their jail release for an unrelated property crime, according to the Bellingham Herald.

“Sometimes people don’t need incarceration. Sometimes accountability means something different … drug court or mental health court. We haven’t been able to get people to engage in those things, because we’ve had no way to get them to respond to the courts with COVID,” Richey continued.

Compounding the problem are recently amended legislative police accountability measures, according to Richey.

In 2021, the Legislature placed limits on the extent to which police could use force when investigating a crime. The recently passed HB 2037 has clarified the intent of the law such that police now have license to use “Terry stops” as an investigative tool, a practice that does not qualify as use of force without probable cause, which was broadly curtailed with 2021’s legislation.

“The legislature [was] stopping police from doing their jobs. That’s been a real problem … People need to understand that if you commit a crime, the police can chase you, and that’s not something that is happening today,” Richey offered.

“I’m going to give the Legislature a little bit of credit for having gone back and taking care of the use of force statute. It’s not perfect. I’m not going to say that, but it’s much better … Terry Stops are how officers can investigate crime. I am thankful that the Legislature understood that and responded properly by fixing that … with the current change in the law, I believe that officers can conduct a Terry stop, they can investigate the crime.”

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.

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

KTTH

strike...
KTTH staff

Bigger issues at play than just reproductive health in WA lawmaker’s call for a general women’s strike

U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal calls for a general women's strike in a push to codify Roe, but the left doesn't just want expanded access to abortion.
16 hours ago
(Photo by Karen Ducey/Getty Images)...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Gov Inslee and WA Democrats aren’t pro-choice. They’re pro-abortion

Inslee and his colleagues are not pro-choice. They're actually pro-abortion. There's a big difference between the two.
2 days ago
Seatac Traveler...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Violating policy, SeaTac Airport censored pro-life, conservative customers

The social media manager for SeaTac Airport censored pro-life, political messages it disagreed with by hiding them from its thread.
3 days ago
roe...
KTTH staff

‘The will of the states will be expressed:’ Rantz, Suits, KTTH hosts celebrate SCOTUS’ Roe decision

50 years after Roe v. Wade was handed down by the Supreme Court, pro-life supporters can breathe a sigh of relief with Friday’s landmark decision, overturning federal protections for abortion.
5 days ago
Photo from the Office of the Insurance Commissioner...
KTTH staff

State Sen. Muzzall on bipartisan support of insurance commissioner to resign

State Senator Ron Muzzall-R of Oak Harbor, came on the Jason Rantz show to discuss the scandal and why he thinks both Republicans and Democrats are uniting against Kreidler. 
6 days ago
(Photo by Suzi Pratt/FilmMagic)...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Cops rip bigoted Seattle Pride leaders as they ban uniformed officers from LGBT march

Initially, Seattle Pride explained that "all city departments – including SPD – are able to participate as contingents in the parade" this year.
7 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Swedish Cyberknife 900x506...

June is Men’s Health Month: Here’s Why It’s Important To Speak About Your Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, men in the United States, on average, die five years earlier than women.
...

Anacortes – A Must Visit Summertime Destination

While Anacortes is certainly on the way to the San Juan Islands (SJI), it is not just a destination to get to the ferry… Anacortes is a destination in and of itself!
...

Ready for your 2022 Alaskan Adventure with Celebrity Cruises?

Celebrity Cruises SPONSORED — A round-trip Alaska cruise from Seattle is an amazing treat for you and a loved one. Not only are you able to see and explore some of the most incredible and visually appealing natural sights on the planet, but you’re also able to relax and re-energize while aboard a luxury cruise […]
...

Compassion International Is Determined to ‘Fill’ a Unique Type of Football ‘Stadium’

Compassion International SPONSORED — During this fall’s football season—and as the pandemic continues to impact the entire globe—one organization has been urging caring individuals to help it “fill” a unique type of “stadium” in order to make a lasting difference in the lives of many. Compassion International’s distinctive Fill the Stadium (FtS, fillthestadium.com) initiative provides […]
...

What are the Strongest, Greenest, Best Windows?

Lake Washington Windows & Doors SPONSORED — Fiberglass windows are an excellent choice for window replacement due to their fundamental strength and durability. There is no other type of window that lasts as long as fiberglass; so why go with anything else? Fiberglass windows are 8x stronger than vinyl, lower maintenance than wood, more thermally […]
...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
With suspension of jury trials, Whatcom among ‘top places in state for property crime,’ says prosecutor