4th District Reps. Schmidt and Christian vote for police pursuit bill passed by House in late night debate

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CONTACT: Kurt Hammond, Senior Public Information Officer for Rep. Suzanne Schmidt | 360-786-7794
Daniel McDonald, Public Information Officer for Rep. Leonard Christian | 360-786-7182

4th District Reps. Schmidt and Christian vote for police pursuit bill passed by House in late night debate

During a late-night debate on the House floor Tuesday, lawmakers passed a controversial bill that would allow police to engage in vehicular pursuits of criminal suspects on a very limited basis.

Police reforms approved by the majority party in 2021 requires a higher threshold for when officers carry out a pursuit. Rather than “reasonable suspicion” they need “probable cause.” Since that change, there has been a surge in stolen vehicles and would be criminals fleeing from police.

Senate Bill 5352 would lower the “probable cause” standard, but only in specific instances. Police could only pursue in limited cases involving those suspected of a violent crime, a sex offense, domestic violence-related offenses, driving while under the influence, and trying to escape arrest.

Fourth District State Representatives Suzanne Schmidt and Leonard Christian who voted in favor of the bill issued the following statement:

“While we felt this bill did not go far enough to restore public safety, we believe it was the right decision to support this legislation. We contacted Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl and Spokane County Sheriff John Nowels. Based on our conversations and their input we felt we needed to move Senate Bill 5342 forward, rather than run the risk of adjourning the session without any progress on the vehicle pursuit issue.

“We had hoped for more, but at least we finally moved this disastrous policy back in the right direction. That said, the conversation must continue.

“Our law enforcement, local governments, communities and neighborhoods deserve more. We are concerned we will continue to see an increase in crime and vehicle pursuits and when we return to Olympia next year, we will still need a more comprehensive solution.”

Senate Bill 5352 was approved by a vote of 57-40. The bill was amended in the House policy committee so it now heads to the Senate for a concurrence vote.


Washington State House Republican Communications