The bill removes the subsection of the RCW requiring probable cause related to violent or sexual offenses, or driving under the influence. It further changed the requirements to conduct a pursuit to a reasonable suspicion a person in the vehicle has committed or is committing a criminal offense.
“What has to happen is we have to weigh the risk because we don’t want to hurt somebody or risk hurting somebody for a stupid reason,” Schenck said.
Legislators said they want to allow officers to use their judgment in some situations using guidelines in the law.
“A one-size-fits-all pursuit policy simply does not work for every community in our state, and this bill will allow police agencies to set their own pursuit policies,” said Rep. Alicia Rule, D-Blaine, one of the primary sponsors of the bill.
Legislators in support of the bill include Rep. Tom Dent, R-Moses Lake, and Sen. Judy Warnick, R-Moses Lake.
As of Jan, 17, there were no upcoming meetings scheduled for either the senate or the house version of the bill.
Rep. Eric Robertson, R-Sumner, was the other primary sponsor of the bill. Robertson is a retired Washington State Patrol trooper who has been involved in vehicle pursuits.
“I’ve made the decision to safely conduct a pursuit against someone violating the law, and I’ve also made the decision to end a pursuit out of safety concerns for myself, the traveling public, and our communities. Law enforcement professionals depend on this discretion in split-second decisions,” said Robertson.
Pursuit changes of note:
- A subsection requiring probable cause related to violent or sexual offenses, or driving under the influence was removed.
- Probable cause was changed to a reasonable suspicion a person in the vehicle has committed or is committing a criminal offense.
- Language requiring supervisor authorization for pursuits would be changed to require officers notify supervisors of pursuits immediately.
- Officers will be required to plan for completing the pursuit as soon as possible once it begins.
- Officers involved in a pursuit must have completed an emergency vehicle operator’s course and be current in renewing that training and be certified in at least one pursuit intervention option.
For the full text of the bill, visit bit.ly/3iK5dhM.