KING COUNTY, Wash. - King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn introduced legislation on Thursday, requesting the county to develop new guidelines following a recent surge in drivers refusing to stop for law enforcement.
According to Dunn, King County saw a massive increase in suspects eluding police after State House Bill 1054 was approved, which imposes strict rules on when law enforcement is allowed to pursue a vehicle.
"The State Legislature made a bad policy decision, and communities across Washington are having to deal with the very real and dangerous consequences," said Dunn. "It would be irresponsible to sit back and give active criminals the option to simply ignore law enforcement stops. King County must begin conversations at the state level about how we can fix this failed law for the safety and protection of every day, law-abiding folks."
Data provided from the King County Sheriff’s Office (KCSO) shows that between Jan. to May 2022, there were around 240 incidents where a deputy had to withdraw from a pursuit. That is a 175% increase from the same time period in 202.
State Senate Bill 5919 was introduced to the state’s recent legislative session as a potential way to remedy the issue; though it failed to get a final vote after it passed the State Senate and the House.
"King County has long had a pursuit policy that balanced the importance of public service, restraint, training, and supervision — but this changed when the State Legislature unilaterally banned the appropriate use of vehicular pursuits, creating today’s environment that permits drivers to disobey law enforcement and making the public less safe," said Teresa Taylor, Executive Director of Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs. "King County now has an opportunity to bring data and experience to bear and help lead the state back to thoughtful public safety policy."
If Dunn’s legislation is passed, King County will work with the KCSO and its cities to develop a set of state policy proposals to get more drivers to pull over in routine traffic stops. The resulting policies would be included in King County’s 2023 State Legislative Agenda, which defines the legislative items that the County will advocate for in Olympia.