Thanks to legislation passed by the Democrat-controlled Washington State legislature, officers are now only allowed to engage in pursuits if they have been trained in an emergency vehicle operator course (EVOC) or Pursuit Intervention Technique (PIT) while employed by SPD.
According to the letter Diaz sent the department, obtained by The Post Millennial, “We fully understand the risks associated with suspending pursuits for the vast majority of the department we are also mindful of the risk to our employees and the department for not complying with state law.”
“SPD is currently engaged in discussions with the CJTC concerning trainings and techniques officers are already certified in that may meet this new legislative requirement as well as continuing our ongoing investment into the acquisition of other pursuit intervention technologies (e.g. Starchase or reinstating our stop stick program).”
“We are also working with the legislature and the Criminal Justice Training Commission to confirm our understanding of the law and explore any resolution of this restriction.”
According to a source in the department, very few officers, with the exception of SWAT team members have the necessary training.
In a statement to KOMO News, SPD said, “With the passing of the Washington State Senate Bill 5352, the Seattle Police Department is complying with the new legislative restrictions while working to better understand them. SPD is conferring with other agencies, the Criminal Justice Training Commission, and the City Attorney’s Office to ensure that SPD’s pursuit policy remains consistent with all laws and that SPD officers have the training and tools they need to conduct pursuits under the new standards.”
The order came on the heels of Democratic Governor Jay Inslee signing legislation that rolled back some onerous requirements for police to pursue suspects, following a spike in people fleeing from police after the Democrat-controlled legislature banned many forms of pursuits in response to the BLM and Antifa riots that rocked the Seattle area in 2020.
Suspects fleeing police spiked by the thousands following the passage of the original bill with one criminal even calling 911 to cite the legislation in telling police to stop pursuing him.
The legislation has even been blamed for deaths such as the case of 12-year-old Immaculee Goldade who was walking home after playing outside the school with a friend, Kathleen Olson, also 12, when a stolen truck hit the girls near Midland Elementary School. Immaculee died at the scene and Kathleen was severely injured.
A bipartisan fix for the flawed legislation was passed in the Washington House but Democratic Sen. Manka Dhingra, chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee and deputy majority leader of the Washington State Senate refused to let the bill advance citing faulty data that falsely claimed the original legislation saved lives. The “study” citing the flawed data was slammed by experts and shortly thereafter pulled from websites.
Under the new law Inslee signed, police no longer need probable cause to initiate a pursuit, rather reasonable suspicion that a person inside a vehicle has committed or is committing a crime would be enough to give chase.
Previously, officers have been authorized to use force to briefly detain someone if they have reasonable suspicion that someone might be involved in a crime.
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