Ursula: Stop giving criminals a free pass

Aug 31, 2023, 4:11 PM | Updated: 4:12 pm

Image: A 27-year-old suspect in Pierce County was charged with two counts of assault in the second ...

A 27-year-old suspect in Pierce County was charged with two counts of assault in the second degree, theft of a motor vehicle, attempting to elude a police vehicle, and unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle. (Photo: Pierce County Sheriff's Department)

(Photo: Pierce County Sheriff's Department)

As we are dealing with record-high violent crime in much of our region, the decision by a Pierce County Court Commissioner to release a suspected felon, WITHOUT BAIL, is especially infuriating.

On Monday, an undercover deputy noticed a suspicious-looking car in a grocery store parking lot. The Kia had a broken window and a temporary license plate. The deputy ran background on the plate and found out that it actually belonged to a different car. He also discovered that the Kia had been stolen, at gunpoint, by a female suspect earlier this month. Digging even further, he found out the woman driving that stolen car had escaped from Lakewood police officers who couldn’t pursue her under a new state law that limits police vehicular pursuits.

The undercover officer decided to follow the woman in the stolen car and called for marked patrol cars to join him. But the suspect once again sped off and eventually pulled into an RV storage lot. At that moment, an innocent bystander pulled into the lot and got out of his car. As the deputies tried to arrest her, they say she jumped into the bystander’s car and tried to drive off.  When the deputies opened the car doors to stop her, she allegedly put the car in reverse, injuring them. But now, sheriff’s deputies had probable cause for assault and, under the pursuit bill, they could chase her without fear of breaking the law. They eventually caught up with her after she rolled herself out of the vehicle and let it crash into a tree.

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If you’re like me, you’re having a hard time keeping track of how many crimes this woman committed. Pierce County Prosecutors charged the 27-year-old suspect with two counts of assault, theft of a motor vehicle, attempting to elude a police vehicle and unlawful possession of a stolen vehicle.

I failed to mention that deputies also found a gun in the stolen Kia. So why on earth would Pierce County Court Commissioner Barbara McInvaille not only put this woman back out on the streets, but not even set bail for her? Beyond car theft and eluding police, the suspect’s actions could have resulted in the deaths of the deputies who tried to stop her.

It’s already bad enough that the police pursuit bill that was recently passed in Olympia is inadequate and favors the criminals, but here’s an opportunity to keep a dangerous person in custody and Commissioner McInvaille allows her to walk.

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This is a prime example of why we need a complete overhaul of our justice system, starting with changes to our pursuit bill in Olympia. We also need sentencing reform. We need full staffing in our jails. We need more police. We also need to support criminal diversion programs that have PROVEN track records. We need to stop wasting money on those that don’t. And, finally, we need judges and commissioners to stop releasing criminals who could pose even more danger to the public.

As it stands now, the message to criminals is that you can do whatever the hell you want and no one is going to stop you.

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Ursula: Stop giving criminals a free pass