‘We don’t know how much crime is going on,’ former police officer says after WSP fails to report I-5 assault

Jul 13, 2022, 7:31 PM

Rich Pruitt, a Bothell resident commuting home from Seattle, had an accident on the I-5 highway at 4:30 a.m. when debris smashed his windshield and dented his car’s hood, causing significant damage. Yet, Washington State Patrol (WSP) failed to report the incident, according to Pruitt.

“So I called 911 and I got connected with Washington State Patrol. The dispatcher told me a trooper would be in the area and contact me,” Pruitt said on the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Within a few minutes, checking outside of the car, looking at the damage, shaking the glass off my clothes, things like that, I get a phone call. The phone call was from a trooper. He asked me if I was injured. I said no. He asked me about the damage and he said, I’ll give you my name and my badge number and if you need it for insurance purposes, just give that to them. I’m not going to do a report, because this is happening all the time. And we just don’t do reports on that.”

He described the debris as a very heavy construction cardboard box with items in it. He also stated he was covered in shards of glass after the incident.

“I am a 32-year veteran of the Seattle Police Department, and I retired a couple of years ago. I know, and I’ve been told my entire career, that if you don’t do a report, it didn’t happen,” Pruitt said. “As I got going, I got thinking about it. How do they know that this happened to use it for setting up a task force or even staffing the freeway at that hour of the day if there’s no report? And it kind of just chewed on me for a while.”

Pruitt went to Facebook to write a lengthy post to voice his frustrations.

“He stated to me that it happens all the time, so unless I’m injured, they don’t even take a report. I don’t blame him, I blame the broken system,” he wrote on Facebook. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but if there’s no report, then nothing happened! This is why politicians and those people that defunded think they did an OK job. People aren’t reporting crime or they’re not being reported because of a broken system.”

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“We talked about this a while back. We did a story a couple of weeks ago of the non-emergency number not being picked up by the Seattle Police Department,” Jason Rantz said during the interview. “So when you call and want to report a car was broken into or your home was broken into, it’s obviously not an emergency, you’re not calling 911. So you call the non-emergency number, it doesn’t get picked up, which means it might end up not being reported at all, which tells us the data is completely incorrect that we get at the end of the year.”

Pruitt described the incident as an assault, claiming someone intentionally threw the debris at the car. His car was the only vehicle on the highway at that time.

“As I was driving, I saw something laying on the side of the street and I honestly thought to myself, I should change lanes in case somebody throws something off the edge,” Pruitt said. “I checked my blind spot and before I got my turn signal on, a box was flying into my window.”

WSP has since responded to the Jason Rantz Show on why a report wasn’t taken.

“The WSP takes the incidents where vehicles are struck by debris that is thrown very seriously. Although catching the perpetrators is difficult, a report should be taken when a victim calls,” the email read. “A report should be taken in each instance that a person calls us with a report of damage, not just when it involves an injury.”

However, WSP stated it does not believe this is a staffing issue.

“It would be an unreal expectation to have a trooper in all locations that these type of incidents occur, as well as performing the other functions and responsibilities or troopers do,” the email continued.

“The problem is, if it continues, then what? How many people fell underneath this loop that I just did? So instead of maybe 10 bad cases, you had 20,” Pruitt said. “Minor crimes lead to major crimes, and if we’re not doing anything about it, now we see the violence climbing, we see these other things happening. We just don’t know how much crime is going on out there. They can’t say it’s a reduction of crime if it’s not being reported.”

Earlier today, Harrell issued a new plan to recruit more police officers to the Seattle Police Department.

Seattle Mayor Harrell commits to hiring 500 SPD officers by 2027

Officer staffing levels reached their lowest point in three decades this year, with over 400 officers departing SPD since 2019.

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‘We don’t know how much crime is going on,’ former police officer says after WSP fails to report I-5 assault