Rantz: Emboldened by Democrat law, criminals won’t pull over for cops as WA crime surges

May 31, 2022, 6:15 PM
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Law enforcement agencies in Washington are reporting a high number of instances where criminal suspects refuse to pull over during investigations because of a Democrat anti-policing bill. Many times, the suspects are in stolen cars.

The sheriffs in Pierce, Snohomish, and Chelan counties say the problem is rampant. The Washington State Patrol says troopers encountered nearly 1,000 instances of suspects refusing to pull over, according to the Northwest News Network. Lakewood PD experiences daily refusals to pull over.

Thanks to House Bill 1054, passed by Democrats in Olympia, criminals can ignore police without fear that they’ll be pursued. Who could have seen this coming? The law enforcement members, nonpartisan policing experts, and Republican lawmakers who warned us this would occur.

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Democrats emboldened criminals

House Bill 1054, passed by Democrats in Olympia, “reimagined policing” in ways that emboldened criminals. Thanks to a near-total ban on police pursuits, suspects can ignore police without fear that they’ll be chased.

The only time police can pursue a vehicle is if they suspect impaired driving or have established probable cause, a much higher standard than reasonable suspicion, that the driver committed a violent crime, sex offense, or are an escaped felon. In cases where this standard is met, they must still determine whether a chase outweighs the risk to the public should their pursuit cause an accident.

It didn’t take long for this bill to impact a criminal’s behavior.

The state has seen a rash of quick smash-and-grab robberies where criminals can be in-and-out in minutes. ATMs are being stolen and pot shops are being robbed. Thanks to dangerously low police staffing, officers may not be able to respond to catch a criminal in the act. And if they see someone they reasonably suspect of theft driving off, they can’t pursue them.

There’s also been a statewide surge in car theft. Since it’s not a violent crime, stolen cars cannot be pursued under state law.

“I believe this is the first time we have ever topped 4,000 stolen vehicles per month,” said Steve Strachan, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, told KING 5.

Suspects won’t pull over

What’s most troubling is that criminal suspects, often in stolen cars, refuse to pull over for law enforcement. If they speed to avoid the police, they cannot be pursued under most circumstances.

“On one weekend [in April], we had 23 people not stop,” Pierce County Sherrif Ed Troyer tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “And that’s with [deputies] not stopping nearly as many vehicles as in the past.”

Chelan County Sheriff Brian Barnett confirmed “it’s happening a lot,” pointing to the 4,000 stolen cars per month report from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. He calls the situation “dire.”

In Snohomish County, it’s a daily occurrence, according to Sheriff Adam Fortney. It’s gotten so bad that the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is implementing a new process to track these instances to help highlight the problem for lawmakers. He calls it an “epidemic” that he says is directly related to the legislation.

“Pretty much every day [suspects refuse to pull over], and I’m not exaggerating that,” Fortney explained to the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “It’s not even about the pursuit. It’s about giving the crooks a free pass to commit crimes and drive away from the police.”

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Democrat leadership refuses to do anything

During the last legislative session, there was bipartisan agreement that Democrats erred in passing House Bill 1054.

A near-blanket ban on pursuits was clearly the wrong choice. It prompted lawmakers to amend the law, but Senate Democrat leaders allowed it to fail before the end of the session. They wouldn’t bring it up for a final vote.

It failed thanks to the pressure of Rep. Jesse Johnson (D-Federal Way), one of the chief architects of the bills reimagining policing in Washington state. A fierce critic of cops, Johnson claimed there were no problems with the bill, claiming he does “not believe pursuits in a 21st-century policing system are needed.” But his understanding of policing doesn’t extend past what he watches on MSNBC.

With police departments understaffed, agencies don’t have enough detectives to put onto cases of stolen vehicles and other misdemeanor crimes. They can’t even handle the backlog of felony crimes. All this does is encourage thieves and other miscreants to continue their crime spree, creating more victims along the way.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3–6 pm on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz  on  Twitter,  InstagramFacebook, and YouTube. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: Emboldened by Democrat law, criminals won’t pull over for cops as WA crime surges