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Wash. State House committee passes modified police pursuit law

The change, which some call a “watered-down version” of the original bill, would replace the state’s pursuit law that was passed in 2021 by this summer

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By Sarah Calams

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Two bills were passed by the Washington state House committee Thursday related to police pursuit laws.

House Bill 1363 was one of the bills passed, giving law enforcement the authority to pursue a suspect accused of a violent or sexual crime, vehicle assault, escape, DUI and domestic violence, reported. The change will replace the state’s pursuit law that was passed in 2021, which allowed for the pursuit of DUI suspects with reasonable suspicion as well as probable cause for violent, sexual and escape charges.

However, the original House Bill 1363 would have allowed pursuits for any crimes if an officer had reasonable suspicion.

[RELATED: 911 audio: Suspect tells dispatcher to call off Seattle PD pursuit, citing new law]

Teresa Taylor, executive director of the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs, said she was “disappointed” with the “watered-down version” of the original bill, but agreed with other officials that the issue was still kept alive.

“This important legislation will fix the 2021 law that severely limited law enforcement’s ability to pursue fleeing suspects,” Steven Strachan, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, said. “The 2021 law has hampered the investigation of crimes and contributed to increased crime.”

If the bill passes, the changes from the 2021 bill will expire in July.

Another bill, House Bill 1586, was passed by the committee, which calls on the Washington Justice Training Commission to establish a work group by the end of June to study the issue of pursuits and create a permanent policy by the end of the year.

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