MYNORTHWEST NEWS

Federal Way Police Chief: ‘No-pursuit law makes communities less safe’

Feb 16, 2024, 2:00 PM | Updated: 2:09 pm

federal way body...

Federal Way police officers responding to a crime. (Photo: Sam Campbell/KIRO Newsradio)

(Photo: Sam Campbell/KIRO Newsradio)

On the night of Feb. 10 into the morning of Feb. 11, 69 vehicles were broken into in Federal Way. It happened all over the city – on the street, at shopping centers, apartment complexes and even churches.

The suspects? Five juveniles in a reported stolen car.

Federal Way Police Chief Andy Hwang blamed Washington’s no-pursuit law which is actually a limited pursuit law. In 2021, Washington passed a law that limits when police can pursue suspects in vehicles. The law bans car chases for low-level crimes, such as theft. It also requires police to have probable cause to pursue suspects for violent and sex crimes.

More crime: Store owner prevents robbery by bringing a machete to a knife fight

“Stealing a vehicle is a precursor to other crimes now,” Federal Way Police Chief Andy Hwang told KIRO Newsradio. “Organized retail theft, smash and grab burglaries, robberies, purse snatching, carjackings, homicides, and a spike in freeway shootings. These are all occurring because of the anti-police, anti-pursuit policy.”

A patrol officer located the suspect vehicle occupied by five individuals at a McDonald’s parking lot. As soon as the suspects saw the patrol vehicle, they sped away.

Even though the suspects had allegedly damaged 69 vehicles, the officer allowed the suspects to escape capture under the current pursuit law, which prevents officers from pursuing property crimes, including stolen vehicles.

“This is entirely unacceptable!” Hwang said.

Accusations against police: Protesters upset about treatment from Seattle police

He is calling on lawmakers in Olympia to act now and change the law.

“This is the most critical public safety legislation for lawmakers this year,” Hwang said. “This should be their number one priority to change this law because it’s hurting a lot of communities in Washington state.”

Legislators instituted the law in 2021 over fears that high-speed pursuits could do more harm than good and endanger the lives of citizens, including innocent bystanders. Hwang sees things differently.

More from James Lynch: Store owner prevents robbery by bringing a machete to a knife fight

“I’m talking with officers. I’m working with officers in the field,” he said. “They’re saying this is what we need to make a difference to keep our residents safe, and I think lawmakers should listen.”

You can read more of James Lynch’s stories here. Follow James on X, formerly known as Twitter, or email him here.

MyNorthwest News

darrington fire...

Frank Sumrall

Forest fire burns near Darrington, multiple crews on scene

A forest fire of approximately 10 acres is burning near Darrington, with multiple fire agencies working to contain it.

1 hour ago

officer not guilty assault...

Frank Sumrall

King County officer found not guilty of assault after allegedly punching handcuffed suspect

Officer Matthew Good was accused of punching a suspect multiple times while handcuffing him after the suspect kicked Good and other officers.

5 hours ago

sound transit bus crash...

Frank Sumrall

15 passengers injured after Sound Transit bus crashes into building

Fifteen people were injured after a Sound Transit bus crashed into a building Saturday evening at 5th Avenue and Terrace Street in Seattle.

6 hours ago

Former President Donald Trump sits in Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 20, 2024. (...

Bill Kaczaraba

Bellevue man donates $1 million to Trump super PAC

A Bellevue man donated $1 million to a Political Action Committee (PAC) that supports Donald Trump just a day after he became a convicted felon.

1 day ago

Photo: Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson....

James Lynch

Auburn Officer Jeff Nelson’s fate now in hands of jury

It has been five years since Auburn Police Officer Jeff Nelson shot and killed 26-year-old Jesse Sarey who was going through a crisis.

1 day ago

Queen Anne, Uptown, parking...

Bill Kaczaraba

Power company investigating early morning outage to Queen Anne, Magnolia

Seattle City Light wants to know why 10,000 customers lost power in the early morning hours on Saturday.

1 day ago

Federal Way Police Chief: ‘No-pursuit law makes communities less safe’