McCune’s votes ‘no’ on ‘inadequate’ police pursuit bill

Pierce County lawmaker says majority Democrats failed the public by rejecting sensible amendments

Today, state Sen. Jim McCune voted against a compromise police-pursuit bill, after Democrats rejected three amendments the senator says would have added teeth to the bill and restored a measure of law and order to the state’s streets and highways.

“What is happening in our communities across this state is that police officers are retiring because we are not making strong public-safety laws,” said McCune, R-Graham. “Not only are they retiring, but we can’t find new candidates to hire. So we are down more than 40 officers in Pierce County alone, not including corrections officers.

“These bad pursuit policies are creating a mess in our state, making the public less safe and leading to criminals thumbing their noses at the basic rules of our society.

“The amendments offered today were important, common-sense changes that should have been adopted. We had amendments to include reckless driving, auto theft and other violent crimes on the list of offenses that would allow an officer to use his or her discretion in deciding to pursue a fleeing suspect.

“By rejecting these simple changes, the majority Democrats failed the public. They are telling victims that their lives, property and livelihoods don’t matter; they are telling our law-enforcement officers that they don’t trust them to do the job they were hired and trained to do; and they are telling lawbreakers that the Legislature is not serious about ending the lawlessness that is plaguing our streets.

“As much as I want to see a bill pass to deal with the police-pursuit issue, I cannot vote for this inadequate and shameful bill.”

Senate Bill 5352 passed the Senate with a vote of 26-23, with Democrats voting 16-13, and Republicans evenly split, voting 10-10 on final passage of the bill. While the final vote was bipartisan, the votes on three amendments to strengthen the bill were not, with all Republicans voting for each amendment, and Democrats voting to reject them.

Debate on the bill came shortly after citizens demanding real reform to Washington’s pursuit law gathered on the steps on the state Capitol, and with crime victims demanding change sitting in the gallery overlooking the Senate chamber.

SB 5352 now moves to the House of Representatives, which earlier this week failed to advance a similar measure.