15th District lawmakers vote for compromise police pursuit bill passed by House in late night debate

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CONTACT: Kurt Hammond, Senior Public Information Officer for Reps. Bruce Chandler and Bryan Sandlin | 360-786-7794

15th District lawmakers vote for compromise police pursuit bill passed by House in late night debate

In a late-night debate Tuesday morning lawmakers in the state House of Representatives passed a bill that would partially restore the ability for law enforcement to engage in vehicle pursuits under certain conditions.

Senate Bill 5352, which passed by a vote of 57-40, would allow police to pursue suspects on a very limited basis. It would lower the “probable cause” standard for police pursuits to “reasonable suspicion” in limited cases involving those suspected of committing a violent crime, a sex offense, domestic violence-related offenses, driving under the influence, and trying to escape arrest.

15th District representatives voted in favor of the measure. Rep. Bruce Chandler said any piece of legislation would be better than we have now.

“It is a very small step, but we need to do everything possible to assist our law enforcement officers so they can do their jobs safely, while protecting our communities. It would be disappointing to go home without making progress on this issue,” said Chandler, R-Granger. “While this bill would help, the issue is not going away. I am concerned crime and vehicle pursuits will continue to be an issue and we will be debating this again next session.”

In 2021, the Legislature passed House Bill 1054 which changed the standard for vehicular pursuits from reasonable suspicion to probable cause. Since then, crime has increased and innocent people have lost their lives because police officers are not allowed to pursue due to probable cause.

Rep. Bryan Sandlin said any improvement from the 2021 could help prevent future accidents.

“This bill is not what we wanted or had hoped to take back to our constituents. Our entire caucus wanted more,” said Sandlin, R-Zillah. “However, if this incremental step forward prevents any tragedy in the future, we have done the right thing. One more loss of life is too many.”

Sen. Nikki Torres voted for the bill in the Senate, despite having major reservations about the compromise legislation.

I talked to several members of law enforcement and they each told me that we could not afford to wait another day to change the status quo,” said Torres, R-Pasco. “This bill is far from the solution I would have liked to have seen. Any policy that does not address the epidemic of auto thefts we are seeing in our state is incomplete at best. We will need to come back next year with additional solutions to fully end the lawlessness we are seeing on our streets.

“So while there is still more work to be done, this bill is better than nothing, especially when doing nothing is completely unacceptable.”

The bill was amended in the House Community Safety, Justice and Reentry Committee, so it must return to the Senate for a concurrence vote before advancing governor’s desk for his signature.


Washington State House Republican Communications