OLYMPIA – A bill requiring police officer training on vehicular pursuits and modifying the list of offenses law enforcement is allowed to engage in high-speed chases received bipartisan support in the Senate Wednesday.
Senate Bill 5352, sponsored by Sen. John Lovick (D-Mill Creek), also changes the burden of proof for existing offenses, so police can pursue suspects where a reasonable suspicion standard is met.
“While I am proud to have found a solution to this issue and reach a level of bipartisan support, I want to be crystal clear — the goal is still to reach zero high-speed chases and find technological alternatives to a scenario that is dangerous for law enforcement, the community and the suspect.” said Lovick, a 31-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol. “While they can serve as a necessary tool for community justice, our peace officers still have a duty to limit them to only the most serious situations.”
The amended bill adds vehicular assault and certain domestic violence offenses to the list of crimes police are authorized to pursue. The standard for vehicular pursuit for serious sex offenses is also lowered from probable cause to reasonable suspicion — the same standard used under the current law for drunken driving.
“I know how dangerous many of these high-speed chases can be,” Lovick said. “They are some of the worst situations our neighbors and officers can be in. It is my hope that we follow this bill with renewed calls to continue our work to build safer, healthier communities, as we know the issue extends far beyond the officer and chases.”