Some Drivers Ignoring The Flashing Lights in The Rearview
It's happening in Yakima County and nearly every county in the state. Police say drivers are increasingly refusing to stop for law enforcement. Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic says he sees the increase on police reports that come to his office. It's not only happening to local police but also to Washington State Patrol Troopers.
Troopers say they've seen a big increase since the start of the year
They say from January to May of this year 934 drivers refused to stop for a trooper during a routine traffic stop. Even though the state patrol or local agencies haven't tracked that information in the past they all say they've seen a dramatic increase in drivers refusing to stop. Brusic says many drivers now know that state law has changed making it a challenge for officers to legally chase a suspect for refusing to stop.
Police and prosecutors blame lawmakers for the problem
Brusic and other law enforcement officers around the state blame state lawmakers and the passage of House Bill 1054 which brought major changes to how police officers do their job including limiting high speed pursuits. Currently the law allows a pursuit only when an officer has probable cause. That means that no matter what time of day if an officer doesn't have probable cause they cannot legally chase a driver they may suspect of being a criminal.
Republican lawmakers tried but failed to cancel the reforms
Yakima County Prosecutor Joe Brusic says that's a big problem that's making it tough to be a police officer in Yakima County or Washington State.
Republican lawmakers tried stop the legislation but failed because of a lack of votes and lack of support from state democrats.