Forum: Recent policing reforms have made Washington less safe

Clamping down on police pursuits and looking the other way on drug use is contributing to a rise in crime.

By Brian Redford / Herald Forum

Compliments for a well composed editorial of the new law regarding law enforcement vehicle pursuits (“Slow roll on changes to state’s police pursuit law,” The Herald, Jan. 21). It offers the reader the consideration of dual views into this concerning issue. But it sanctions unlawful actions.

The increase in crime is statistically validated causing elevated concern across the opinion spectrum. A question that needs to be a component of this conversation is: “What are the contributing factor or factors?” The answer to this is probably lengthy when all things are considered and undoubtedly creates more questions.

We should presume that there are multiple contributors to the increasing disregard for the law and unacceptable behavior. Both of which are subject to decreasing consequences affording the criminally inclined more bandwidth to continue their dysfunctional behavior. Essentially making the low-level misconduct “gateway crimes.” These lenient laws are an unintended endorsement of crime by our lawmakers. Which is something to be considered when reviewing their viability and competencies as representatives in Olympia.

This current pursuit law has a sibling recognized as the drug misdemeanor law and the Blake decision. Drug possession for personal use was once a felony but now a misdemeanor, subject to referral or diversion to drug treatment. There is no incarceration unless there are extenuating circumstances. The increase in drug-related deaths makes it obvious what the immediate result of the Blake decision is. Proving this methodology just doesn’t work. And the same is true for this new pursuit law with the spike in people who refuse to be stopped by law enforcement when operating a vehicle.

The new trend of leniency by our lawmakers is dangerous. At risk is the safety and ability of law enforcement and the health and safety of all Washington residents. It disregards the safety of everyone these laws are in place to protect. Eventually placing the sometimes irreparable consequences on us. The considerations our representatives afforded their constituency is deficient. This benefits those who make reckless choices. Unfortunately, the results and responsibility politicians deny ownership of is deferred to our law enforcement who are making every effort to enforce the law and protect us regardless of these newly misguided constraints.

It is not beneficial to the law-abiding population to experiment with our laws with reduced response and consequences. It essentially patronizes the perpetrators and encourages them down the same path. Penalties can help them make better choices to change the direction of their life. There is a large number of people who have done this successfully.

Providing a continuance of this law enables the criminals to be a threat to the safety of our citizens and their children. Lifting the gate allowing dismissal of certain crimes is unconscionable, gives permission to violators and endorses their conduct. Every day there are increasing examples that disabling and defunding the police is not the correct answer.

We need to find out what works for the best interest of all and discourages criminal behavior. We will probably discover that the answer is very similar to the previous laws.Continuing down the path paved with poorly evaluated decisions is a recipe for disaster.

Brian Redford lives in Arlington.

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