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Frustration mounts as second police chase in 2 days blocked by pursuit law

Police are not allowed to pursue suspects in property crimes under a state law passed in 2021.

LAKEWOOD, Wash. — For the second time in two days, police were unable to apprehend a suspect in a smash-and-grab due to a state law limiting pursuits by officers.

Just after Friday morning, three suspects drove a truck into the TwinStar Credit Union in Lakewood and made off with an ATM from inside the business.

The ATM, which was being dragged behind the suspects' vehicle, detached in the road and side-swiped a car. Responding officers heard the sound of the ATM and saw the suspects attempting to flee.

An officer managed to get behind the suspects' vehicle and get the license plate, but the Lakewood police public information officer told reporters police were not able to pursue further.

"Knowing that it is a property crime and by state statute now we can't pursue it, we made every attempt just to get close enough to get a plate on it, which we did, and then the vehicle just kept going," said Sgt. Charles Porche.

When asked how frustrating it is to allow a suspect to drive off without pursuing, Porche responded "very."

This comes just a day after an Edmonds pot shop fell victim to a smash-and-grab attempted robbery.

"I got a call that the building had been driven into,” said Savhanna Korvales, the manager of Dank’s Wonder Emporium.

Korvales reviewed security footage with police that showed two burglars in a red minivan first trying to get into the business with a sledgehammer. When that did not work, they rammed the minivan into the building multiple times to break in. Once inside, the burglars tried to steal the ATM machine but were not able to get it loose.

Police said an officer was only a few blocks away when the call was dispatched and arrived to find a red minivan parked in front and another occupied sedan stopped in the roadway, which they believe was acting as a lookout. Police said the officer saw broken glass and recognized it as an obvious burglary and was waiting for backup.

Police said the sedan drove away, and the initial officer followed it to southbound Interstate 5 before they say it recklessly took off when an attempt to stop it was made. Edmonds police said although an officer was following the suspect, the officer could not pursue the suspect once they started driving recklessly due to the police pursuit law passed in 2021.

The state House passed a modified police pursuit bill in February, which would give police who have reasonable suspicion the authority to pursue someone accused of a violent crime, a sexual crime, vehicular assault, escape, DUI, and domestic violence calls. 

This would change the existing law that only allows for the pursuit of DUI suspects with reasonable suspicion and only allows for pursuits with probable cause for violent, sexual, and escape charges.

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