Stronger Families. Stronger Communities. Stronger Washington

According to a release from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) vehicle thefts in the the State of Washington have increased 88% through the first quarter 2022 compared to the same time last year. Since the passage of new laws that restricted law enforcement’s ability to respond and investigate crimes and detain alleged criminals, there has been a steep increase in crime, including a 93% increase in vehicle thefts since those laws went into effect July 2021.

Every citizen in the State of Washington deserves to feel and be safe in their homes and in their community. The Governor and his majority in the Legislature went way too far in restricting the ability of law enforcement to protect our communities. They choose criminals over victims and law-abiding citizens; and the result was a massive spike in crime. There were some minor improvements in 2022 to the disastrous legislation passed in 2021, but many issues remain unaddressed.

Rep. Peter Abbarno (R-Centralia), an attorney and member of the House Civil Rights and Judiciary Committee

During the 2021 Legislative Session, the Governor and Democrat Majority passed a series of police reform bills that were, and continue to be heavily criticized. Those new laws included HB 1054 (establishing requirements for tactics and equipment used by peace officers) and HB 1310 (concerning permissible uses of force by law enforcement and correctional officers).

The 2022 legislative actions that helped clarify the 2021 actions included:

  • HB1719 authorizes the use of less lethal munitions;
  • HB 1735 clarifies police to use force in civil and community caretaking situations; and
  • HB 2037 defines “use of force” and provides for investigative detentions

However, there were many missed opportunities, including not passing Senate Bill 5919 that would change restrictions on pursuits back to one of reasonable suspicion, rather than probable cause, including for certain violent crimes and sex offenses.

Over the past two years we have seen laws passed that reduce the punishment for committing crimes, eliminate victim impact penalties assessed to criminals that hurt people and damage property, and restrict the ability of law enforcement to keep our communities safe. We must return in the 2023 legislative session and actually fix these laws, restore trust in our judicial system, and empower peace officers to keep the public safe.

Rep. Peter Abbarno (R-Centralia)
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