OLYMPIA, Wash. — A bill sponsored by lawmakers from both parties would give police the authority to chase after a suspect whenever the officer has “reasonable suspicion” a crime has been committed.
Longtime state legislator Rep. Roger Goodman, who chairs the House committee that heard two pursuit-related bills Wednesday, said he does not know what, if any, police pursuit legislation will pass during the 2023 session.
“The data’s being disputed and that’s really making it difficult for us to decide which way to go,” said Goodman.
Under a 2021 law, pursuits can only happen when an officer has evidence of a violent or sexual crime or a case of someone driving under the influence.
Another bill, sponsored by Goodman, would call for a group of community members and law enforcement officials to research the risks and rewards of pursuits and establish a statewide pursuit policy by October of 2024.
Goodman said Friday he doesn’t know which one of those bills, if either of them, would pass out of the House.
”Many are saying we didn’t get it right the first time, so we may not get it right the second time,” said Goodman, “Which leads me to want to delegate to the experts at the Criminal Justice Training Commission in a more deliberate fashion, not in the heat of a politically charged legislative session, for the experts to sit down and figure out what is the optimal vehicle pursuit policy for the state.”
Goodman’s House committee also heard testimony about a proposal to prohibit officers from pulling over drivers for nonmoving violations, like broken headlights or expired registration tabs.
Sponsors said those stops end up involving drivers from communities of color more often.
Several representatives from law enforcement said the stops make the roads safer and can result in drunk driving arrests and drug busts.
Goodman said he is taking a “very critical look at this bill,” and said it could pass out of his committee.
“We want to give the police the ability to hold them accountable, but not necessarily as a primary offense,” said Goodman.