In The News: In reversal, more areas allow high-speed police chases

Supporters of policy rollbacks say police pursuits can reduce crime


In early March, Washington state lawmakers approved a measure that came to the legislature in the form of a citizen initiative. Under the policy, law enforcement officers again may give chase when there is reasonable suspicion a person has violated a law. The policy, which will go into effect in June, allows individual police agencies to impose stricter pursuit rules.

“In June, I think we’re going to see an immediate effect on how crime is treated in Washington state, and we’re going to bend that curve downward,” said Washington state Sen. Keith Wagoner, a Republican who voted for the measure, in an interview.

…“It wasn’t great policy, kind of a knee-jerk reaction,” Wagoner said. “The bad guys were waiting at the starting line and there was a starting gun, and auto theft just skyrocketed and crimes associated with that took off.”

In 2022, the number of reported motor vehicle thefts jumped by more than a third over the previous year, according to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs’ annual crime reports. The Evergreen State had one of the highest rates of motor vehicle thefts in 2022 compared with other states, according to FBI crime data, a consistent trend since at least 1997.

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