The Fourth Corner hosts: Sheriff Elfo on this subject on KGMI Radio Saturday Morning Live… Listen IN!!
Local Law Enforcement agencies write open letter on Reforms by state legislature…
POLICE REFORM IN WASHINGTON STATE
An editorial from your local law enforcement officials July 15, 2021
Washington recently enacted a myriad of new “police reform” laws. While law enforcement leadership in Whatcom County supports efforts to enhance training, professionalism, and accountability, as well as to provide treatment alternatives to arrest, the new laws will significantly affect officers’ ability to detect and prevent crime, hinder the apprehension of criminals and render our community less safe.
The legitimate use of reasonable force to detain, arrest and capture criminals has long been a necessary hallmark of community safety. New legislation now restricts officers from using any degree of force unless “probable cause” exists to arrest, prevent an escape, or protect someone from imminent harm. “Probable cause” is a fairly high legal standard that represents a radical departure from long-standing court precedent authorizing temporary investigative detentions (Terry stops) under the lesser standard of “reasonable suspicion.” Officers heavily rely on Terry stops to interrupt crime and protect citizens. Eliminating this investigative tool undoubtedly will result in Increased victimization and many criminals remaining free.
Law enforcement has long applied prudent safety criteria to vehicular pursuit decisions. Pursuits were authorized for serious crimes based on the reasonable suspicion standard. Pursuits are now limited to circumstances where probable cause exists to arrest for serious violent offenses defined as murder/manslaughter/homicide, assault in 1st degree, kidnapping 1st degree, and rape. Pursuits for DUI continue to be allowed based on reasonable suspicion. Officers very frequently encounter situations wherein they have reasonable suspicion to believe criminal activity may be afoot but lack probable cause for arrest until the
vehicle is stopped and an investigation is conducted. This significant limitation on the standards for engaging in pursuits for serious violent crime, and the prohibition against pursuing vehicles even when probable cause is present for other serious crimes (including felony assaults such as domestic violence related offenses, burglaries and high-value thefts) are unique to Washington and will affect safety.
Officers traditionally have responded to incidents involving people in behavioral health crises that have the potential to escalate and create public safety risks. If grave circumstances exist, officers have the ability to take the person into protective custody. However, the new legislation limits officers from using reasonable force when necessary to do so. The legislature has signaled its intent to reduce police interactions and transfer responsibilities to behavioral health professionals to the point of stating officers “should leave the area.” While law enforcement generally supports behavioral health intervention there are not sufficient behavioral health professionals available or willing to take on risks associated with people who have a propensity towards violence without law enforcement protection.
While law enforcement prefers referring drug users to treatment rather than the criminal justice system, legislation re-classified all drug possession, regardless of quantity, from felonies to simple misdemeanors, and directed that for an offender’s first two offenses, they not be referred to prosecution. Sufficient substance use disorder treatment resources are not available to effectuate this and there will be little law enforcement can effectively do about neighborhood and public drug activity.
Limitations on some long-standing police tactics and restrictions on less-lethal alternatives will increase risks to officers’ safety and personal civil and criminal liability. Concerns have resulted in the retirements and resignations of good experienced officers and affected recruitment efforts to replace them.
The above represents just a sample of ramifications. Restrictions on interrogations, canine deployment and others will have substantial impacts as well.
Law enforcement in Whatcom County has always strived for excellence in public safety. Achieving this and capturing criminals will now be more challenging. Please be assured that despite these changes, officers will do the best they possibly can under the new laws to protect you and your family.
Bill Elfo, Sheriff, Whatcom County
Flo Simon, Chief of Police, Bellingham
Dan MacPhee, Chief of Police, Everson-Nooksack
Kevin Turner, Chief Police, Ferndale
Donnell Tanksley, Chief of Police, Blaine
Daniel Debruin, Chief of Police, Sumas
Steve Taylor, Chief of Police, Lynden
A friend in S. Bellingham related to me that a burgler was working their neighborhood. They had to perform a citizens arrest as the police were restricted from protecting property from crime and would not respond. The criminal apparently was released and they were told by the prosecutor that “they were on their own.” The last thing our communities need is less law enforcement.
Is there any sane person who thinks the results of this will be status quo, or neutral? Our weakened law enforcement is a loud and clear screen flag to our thug population and thugs in other states who may not read newspapers but they’ve already heard on the grapevine what easy living there is out West. Let’s remember who made this happen: Inslee, his autocratic administration, Democrat legislators and the union bloc who put them in office and keep them there.
The situation is much simpler than we’re seeing. First, people MUST obey a cop’s orders and not resist arrest, fight, evade, else all bets are off. This is the single issue that causes more black people to be shot than otherwise. Many black criminals seem to feel that fighting back against cops is cool. Trouble is, if the cop feels threatened, he shoots. All this could be avoided if people complied fully with cops’ orders.
The second thing is that there must be sufficient deterrent to crime. If a crime is ignored (petty theft), or a violent criminal is not prosecuted due to lackadaisical DAs or AGs, or immediately let of of jail, crime will continue. Our laws MUST be sufficiently enforced so as to present a deterrence to crime. We’ve been too lax.
Making enforcement of our laws more difficult, and making the definitions of crimes more narrow, and making the penalties for crimes less severe, will ALL make crimes more difficult to restrict. We need to make our great law enforcement officers Job’s easier, not more difficult. These re-definitions will make their jobs more arduous, complicated, and ineffective. Common sense has eluded those who have made the changes. Seattle has shown us what more limited enforcement will do. I would rather be in jail than in some areas of Seattle.
I believe that the majority on citizens agree with every point made in this article. But somehow we have elected representatives that do not. I am not saying our elections are corrupt but I am saying that the narratives pushed by the Democrats and the mainstream press are effective in influencing voters who are not taking the time or making the effort to follow the statistics that represents the reality more than a couple of headlines out of many thousands of police interactions with violent criminals which are at times resting arrests.
Then I will say it: our elections ARE corrupt. There is no way these new laws are the will of the majority of the people of this state. Our “representatives” continue to fail to “represent” us, their constituents.
Isn’t it interesting how democrats have dominated our state government ever since Christine Gregoire “defeated” Dino Rossi and the state went to 100% mail-in ballots?