Rantz: WA Democrats pretend vehicular pursuit ban isn’t connected to crime surge

Jan 19, 2023, 8:58 AM | Updated: 9:59 am
pursuit ban...
Washington State Senator Manka Dhingra (Photo courtesy of Washington Senate Democrats)
(Photo courtesy of Washington Senate Democrats)

There’s bipartisan support in Olympia to reverse the dangerous vehicular pursuit ban that criminals are taking advantage of statewide. But it may not even get a vote. Two influential Washington Democrats are shamelessly pretending it’s not responsible for the surge in crime.

As part of their anti-police reforms, Washington Democrats banned nearly all vehicular pursuits. Law enforcement may only pursue under reasonable suspicion of driving under the influence or if there’s probable cause that a violent felony took place, in addition to getting supervisor approval and weighing the risks the pursuit may have to the public. To meet a probable cause standard as a criminal drives off would require an officer to witness a violent crime when it occurs.

As a consequence of this law, criminals have committed quick crimes, like smash and grabs at jewelry and pot shops or catalytic converter and car thefts. But Senator Manka Dhingra (D-Redmond), a former light-on-crime activist prosecutor, and House Speaker Laurie Jinkins (D-Tacoma) say the data doesn’t exist. They’re not ignorant of the data. They are lying. They have so little respect for the public, they’re not even trying to be good at it.

Rantz: Seattle Police Department walks back order to let DUI suspects flee in stolen cars

They’re just lying to you

Dhingra is chair of the Law & Justice Committee. She was appointed for her police animus. If she doesn’t bring the bipartisan legislation forward, the vehicular pursuit ban will stand. She’s indicated that she doesn’t plan to give it a hearing.

The Democrat senator said she hasn’t seen any data correlating crime to the vehicular pursuit ban. She said the law was passed when crimes were already on the rise, and that the “increase in crime occurred nationally, regardless of laws that people have passed.” It’s a convenient way to say she’s seen data showing an increase in crime, but she doesn’t want Democrat legislation blamed. And then she has the gall to say that her bill, passed at the request of Black Lives Matter activists, has become too “politicized” and people are too “emotional” about the rise in crime.

“I think it’s been so politicized that it is not, I don’t believe that the legislature is the best body to now make changes given the politics around this issue,” Dhingra said after originally passing the bill due to political demands by her base.

“I haven’t seen any data, but that would be something that I’m not shocked that I haven’t seen any of that if it exists, because that’s something that we would see in committee hearings,” Jinkins concurred.

Here’s some data

Between 2014 and 2020, the Washington State Patrol had an average 1,179 suspects not pull over when required. In 2022, that number surged to 3,110. This represents an increase in crime. And if they bothered to talk to law enforcement, they’d hear about the instances of fleeing criminal suspects.

It turns out when you tell criminals they don’t have to pull over, they won’t. And if they know they can quickly jump into a stolen car to escape a crime without consequences, they’ll take advantage. It’s why so many degenerates use stolen vehicles when breaking into retail or stealing catalytic converters. In fact, catalytic converter theft was up an astonishing 10,000% in Washington state from the end of 2019 through June 2022. You can place the blame almost entirely on the Democrat-passed bill.

According to the Puget Sound Auto Theft Task Force, Washingtonians reported 45,033 vehicles were stolen in 2022. That’s more than 15,000 stolen vehicles since the 2016 high, reaching roughly 30,000. The surge started in 2020 with the vehicular pursuit ban. The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office reports suspects refusing to pull over up to three times a day. The day before December’s freezing rain storm, one deputy had three separate cars flee from him within a two-hour period. Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office reports a similar rise in fleeing suspects.

Gig Harbor Police responded to a burglary as an SUV and U-Haul truck were speeding away last month. An officer briefly followed the truck and attempted to “light it up” with sirens on, the officer hoped the driver would pull over. Of course, the driver did not because the suspect didn’t have to. The officers were forced to stop the pursuit.

Gig Harbor Police chief Kelley Busey told the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH that these incidents aren’t unique.

“We have people that as long as they can get from the store into their car, they’re kind of home safe. They take off. Sometimes they’ll even give us an obscene gesture on the way, and they know that we can’t stop them,” Busey explained.

Busey directly blames the vehicular pursuit ban.

“I think the 2021 police reform movement went a bit too far. I think that there needs to be some reasonableness. We need to go back to a place where police officers can weigh the risk of the pursuit versus the reward of catching that suspect. People are frustrated … And I think people largely want us to be able to chase them [suspects] at 3:30 in the morning with no other vehicles on the road.”

Suspects literally cite the law for not pulling over

Dishonest lawmakers, like Dhingra and Jinkins, will pretend this is wholly coincidental. It’s just of a national trend (which is true if you look at Democrat-run cities that passed anti-police reforms at the same time). Maybe they should listen to actual criminals?

A homeless man allegedly took his girlfriend hostage as he eluded police on a high-speed chase in Seattle last May. And he credited a Democrat-passed bill for his unwillingness to pull over.

In 911 audio obtained by the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH, suspect Isaac Sissel repeatedly referenced Democrat-passed legislation prohibiting most vehicular pursuits, as he told police they can’t legally chase him. Police say he admitted to using the new bill to justify past pursuits.

“It’s an illegal pursuit… they’re not supposed to be able to chase,” Sissel tells the 911 operator, according to the audio.

“SPD is illegally chasing me over I don’t know what,” Sissel said on the 911 call.

“Sir, are you able to pull over and talk to officers?” the operator replied.

“No. It is an illegal pursuit and my license is suspended, and this is an illegal pursuit … They’re not supposed to be able to pursue,” Sissel said.

In Spokane this month, a DUI suspect called 911 to report a trooper was trying to pull her over. She told the operator, “A cop is chasing me for no reason and that’s a violation of my civil rights.”

What more could Democrats ask for?

If you’re wondering what it would take to convince Dhingra, Jinkins, and other partisans that they’re responsible for the rise in crime, the answer is nothing.

They will never admit fault, either due to ideological blinders or a belief that crime and bloodshed are worth it in the short term, to reach some police abolitionist future. And they get away with it because they represent voters who automatically vote for Democrats without doing the bare minimum of research. But these same voters will complain when their car is broken into and the police aren’t able to do much about it. And forget relying on the local media to push back in a unified voice. Left-wing reporters here are likely supporters of the legislation, and they’ve been traditionally uninterested in scrutinizing the party in power.

These people are dangerous — the lawmakers and their lazy constituency that doesn’t pay attention. And they don’t have Washingtonians’ best interest in mind. And there’s nothing that will stop them until they’re voted out of office.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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Rantz: WA Democrats pretend vehicular pursuit ban isn’t connected to crime surge