The annual report on crime recently released by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs found violent crime in Washington has increased by an alarming 12.3 percent and is climbing by even more in Pierce County. State Sen. Jim McCune, R-Graham, responded with this statement calling for action to help protect the public:
“The reluctance to put criminals behind bars is a symptom of the ‘soft on crime’ philosophy that has taken hold in Olympia over the past five years.
“Since Democrats recaptured full control of state government in 2018, we have seen thousands of convicted felons released early from prison, drug possession essentially decriminalized by the courts without an effective legislative response, voter approved anti-crime measures weakened, and much-needed tools taken away from law enforcement.
“The fact that these anti-public safety measures have resulted in more crime and reduction in both law enforcement and public safety is sad but was completely predictable.
“The sweeping law-enforcement measures passed by the majority is the key contributing factor in the dramatic decline in officers.
“These measures focused on eroding local control of law enforcement, restricting police tactics and tools. They increased the likelihood that law enforcement would be subject to successful lawsuits, even from known criminals. In a time when law-enforcement agencies were already having trouble recruiting, these measures sent the wrong message to law enforcement and criminals alike, and it has been the public that has suffered as a result.
“The murder rate reached an all-time high in both 2020 and 2021. Based on 2022 data to-date from Seattle and Tacoma, it is likely that next year’s statewide report will make it three years in row.
“We cannot wait another day for action to restore law and order. This year I was part of an effort to reverse these trends, with the introduction of the Republican Safe Washington package of bills. While the Democrat majority relented on a few minor points, the majority of our reform efforts did not receive serious consideration, and many of the restrictions on law enforcement remain. Nothing was done to seriously address drug laws, prison closures, sentencing trends, or the need for judicial oversight.
“Until Governor Inslee and the Legislature tackle these issues, public safety in Washington will continue to deteriorate.”