A bipartisan majority of the Washington State House has endorsed updates to the law governing police pursuits, lowering the standard for police officers to instigate a chase from probable cause to reasonable suspicion while attaching a number of new conditions to police departments’ use of that pursuit authority.
The House considered and then made minor changes to a Senate bill that had appeared a month ago to be dead until it was suddenly revived, replaced with new language, and suddenly voted out with Democratic and Republican votes.
Senate Bill 5352, prime sponsored by Senator John Lovick (D‑44th District: Snohomish County), now returns to its chamber of origin for a concurrence vote.
As in the Senate, the bill split the Democratic and Republican caucuses to a significant extent and was basically the inverse of a party line vote.
The roll call was as follows:
Final Passage as Amended by the House
Yeas: 57; Nays: 40; Excused: 1
Voting Yea: Representatives Barnard, Berg, Bergquist, Bronoske, Callan, Chandler, Chapman, Cheney, Christian, Connors, Cortes, Davis, Dent, Donaghy, Duerr, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Fosse, Goehner, Goodman, Hackney, Hansen, Klicker, Kloba, Leavitt, Lekanoff, Low, McClintock, Mosbrucker, Orcutt, Orwall, Paul, Peterson, Ramel, Ramos, Reeves, Riccelli, Rule, Ryu, Sandlin, Schmick, Schmidt, Senn, Shavers, Simmons, Springer, Stearns, Steele, Stonier, Tharinger, Timmons, Walen, Waters, Wylie, Ybarra, Jinkins
Voting Nay: Representatives Abbarno, Alvarado, Barkis, Bateman, Berry, Caldier, Chambers, Chopp, Corry, Couture, Doglio, Dye, Entenman, Farivar, Graham, Gregerson, Griffey, Harris, Hutchins, Jacobsen, Kretz, Macri, Maycumber, McEntire, Mena, Morgan, Ormsby, Pollet, Reed, Robertson, Rude, Santos, Slatter, Stokesbary, Street, Taylor, Thai, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox
Excused: Representative Ortiz-Self
Here’s the breakdown:
- 39 Democrats voted yea for the bill
- 19 Democrats voted nay against the bill
- 18 Republicans voted yea for the bill
- 21 Republicans voted nay against the bill
|Democrats who opposed the bill were:||Republicans who opposed the bill were:|
There were progressive state representatives on both sides of the vote, although most progressives were nays. Majority Leader Joe Fitzgibbon was a yes vote, as was Speaker Pro Tem Tina Orwall and rising Democratic star Tarra Simmons.
“The law on vehicular pursuits has saved lives — fewer bystanders, officers, passengers, and drivers are losing their lives as a result of hot pursuits,” said the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability in a statement several hours before the vote. “We hope the Legislature is very careful in their consideration of whether it should be changed. Because lives are at stake.”
The striking amendment from the Community Safety, Justice, & Reentry Committee was described by nonpartisan staff as making the following changes:
EFFECT: Requires a pursuing officer in a jurisdiction with fewer than 15, rather than 10, commissioned officers to request the on-call supervisor be notified of the pursuit. Provides that the emergency vehicle operator training required for pursuing officers must include training on performing the risk assessment analysis of whether a person being pursued poses a serious risk of harm to others and the safety risks of failing to apprehend or identify the person are considered greater than the safety risks of the pursuit.
Assuming that these changes are acceptable to a majority of the Senate, the bill could be sent to Governor Jay Inslee in a few days.