When the state Legislature made the largely thoughtless and knee-jerk changes in law regarding the way we police in our state, there were many voices who said many of the new changes were poorly thought out.
But the Democratic sponsors, and most Democrats in Olympia, said the outcomes predicted by opponents, largely Republicans, would never happen.
Democrats called them scare tactics.
However, since the laws went into effect, people have been harmed by an intensifying crime wave that shows no signs of subsiding. Most recently, two children were killed when Washington State Patrol troopers couldn’t pursue a car driving at 111 mph on Interstate 90 due to limits placed on them by changes to pursuit laws.
This isn’t the first time — and I predict it won’t be the last — that tragedy strikes innocent people as a result of foolish decisions in Olympia. Democrats and those who supported the sweeping changes to how we enforce the law can deny it all they want, but many of the most dire predictions have come true.
As the sheriff in Snohomish County pointed out, “You don’t need to be a rocket scientist actually to figure it out. When you tell the criminal element ahead of time that there is a whole list of crimes that we cannot chase you for, the criminal element will take advantage of that, and that’s what we are seeing in Washington.”
First of all, we know there are not many, if any, rocket scientists in our Legislature or the governor's office. There are plenty of “defund the cops” types, and as a result of that, we are losing cops at a rate we can’t replace. So the next logical step is to lower standards and hire unqualified people to enforce the law. As if lesser-qualified candidates will make better decisions in real time and in seconds (or less) than the best and most qualified officers do all the time now.
That’s not to say there could not be improvements, but they should be based on some kind of objective data, a pattern of problems, and not just some new “woke” ideology that seems to be all the rage these days.
The sheriff in Snohomish County went on to say, “There has to be some balance.”
I recall another incident where a kidnapping suspect called the dispatch center to complain the cops were chasing him and they shouldn’t be. It’s gotten crazy.
According to KHQ, between January and May, 934 drivers failed to stop. That’s a lot, and only five months worth. The number will no doubt grow higher.
Back in 2021, the Washington Sheriffs Association asked the governor for a special session to deal with the confusion the new laws created — but Gov. Jay Inslee refused, so here we are.
The Snohomish County sheriff says he is optimistic there is bipartisan support to make some changes this session, but I’m not that confident, and legislation is easy to kill. They did make a tiny step in the right direction when changes were passed in the Senate, but it fell short. Besides, they have been so many other pressing issues to deal with, like raising our taxes yet again.
Or maybe they’ll add a per mile charge to driving in the name of “climate change.”
Both of those are higher priorities for Democrats this session.
Perhaps even higher on their list was House Bill 1333, the so-called “Ministry of Truth” bill, which sets up a 13-member, very partisan panel to combat “disinformation and misinformation” — whatever that means. If we have learned anything in the past couple of years, the largest purveyor of BS (also known as misinformation) has been our own government. We were lied to about COVID-19, the border and all manner of things. The fact that they shut down any debate by experts not associated with the government only makes me think this is just one more way to silence dissent.
I used to have some confidence in our courts, but many have become hacks like the other branches of our government. The attorney general even admits that the effective state intervention “may intersect with speech or association” protected by the First Amendment.
For some reason, now that we’ve seen what this state's politics are like in the Puget Sound, I have a feeling they may be talking about people like me who disagree with them.
I don’t trust them and they have given me no reason to.
John McCroskey was Lewis County sheriff from 1995 to 2005. He lives outside Chehalis and can be contacted at email@example.com.