People feel unsafe in their communities as crime, drug use and mental illness soar
Beyond campaign lip service, Democrats show little interest in fixing past mistakes on public safety
Many in our communities feel unsafe. Murder, assault, retail theft, shootings…all are at an all-time high.
“Anti-police policies passed by the majority in 2021 completely missed the target,” said Senate Republican Leader John Braun, R-Centralia. “Instead of improving the equity in law enforcement activities, these policies have emboldened criminals to steal from and hurt law-abiding people and businesses. Police are treated like the enemy and hamstrung by the new laws. Offenders are given more rights than their victims.”
Despite supporting the “Defund Police” movement, many Democrats have recently paid lip service in support of law enforcement, claiming they want safer communities. However, some have indicated in the press that reforming two bills from 2021 that have proved to be a huge mistake is not on their list of priorities. One of these bills has severely restricted the ability of police to pursue a suspect. What’s more, many Democrats have fought for legislation that effectively legalizes the possession of hard drugs such as fentanyl. And despite wide, bipartisan support, expanding the DUI lookback period has repeatedly failed to become law.
Senate Republicans remain steadfast in our support for the members of law enforcement, for holding criminals accountable for their actions, and for encouraging the prosecution and incarceration of those who are threatening the safety of you and your children. Improving the access to training so we can staff law enforcement at levels for which we are already funding is a key step. So, too, is having the ability to compel criminals into substance abuse treatment and mental health treatment.
It’s impossible to focus on other issues when you don’t feel safe in your home, your school, your place of business or your community. Public safety IS our number one priority.
We will fight to:
- Fix the police pursuit legislation that allows criminals to flee without being chased
- Increase the lookback timeframe on DUI convictions from 10 years to 15 years
- Provide resources to train additional law enforcement officers
- Support the efforts of law enforcement and prosecutors to catch, charge and convict criminals
- Squash legislation that makes people and businesses in our communities a target for violent crime
Senator Nikki Torres: Skyrocketing crime rates were predictable after the Democrats “waged a legislative war on law enforcement.”
In the press
- Bill pushes hiring, retention bonuses for state troopers, aims to improve traffic safety (FOX 13)
- WACOPS calls on state lawmakers to adjust police reform legislation (KAPP/KVEW)
- Battle brewing in Olympia over reversing police pursuit reforms (KPQ Radio)
- Bill aimed at changing traffic stops intended to reduce fatalities, increase racial equity (KING TV)
- Lawmakers debating bill that would limit law enforcement’s ability to make ‘low-level’ traffic stops (KIRO TV)
- Armed robberies in Pierce County up 71% since 2017 (KING TV)
- OPINION: The close calls and long nights of a law enforcement officer (Jerrell Wills, deputy director of the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission/The Seattle Times)
- EDITORIAL: WA should fund unit to investigate missing Indigenous people (The Seattle Times)
- Retail theft on the rise, attorney general tells industry reps and law enforcement (The Wenatchee World)
- Republican lawmakers pressure Sen. Dhingra on police pursuit reform bill (The Center Square)
- Washington state lawmakers spar over pursuit bill (KIT Radio)
- State House considers law enforcement, Blake decision clean-up bills (KNWN Radio)
- Vancouver Police: Kids becoming victims of ‘sextortion’ increasing across the U.S. (KOMO TV)
- One Washington lawmaker has the key to block discussions on police pursuits, and she is wielding that power (FOX 13)
- ‘The data is incomplete’: Sen. Dhingra defends her opposition to revising police pursuit law (The Center Square)
- Washington state senator’s bill cracking down on repeat DUI offenders advances (The Chronicle)
- Pierce County Deputy Sheriff: Little to no consequences for teen crime (MyNorthwest)
- State lawmakers say its time to jail repeat impaired drivers (KIT Radio)
- Wire theft did $30,000 in damage at local school’s football field, police report says (The News Tribune)
- Bucking national trend, Tacoma recorded its highest tally of homicides on record in 2022 (The News Tribune)
- Despite new laws, converter thefts still epidemic in WA (KONA Radio)
- Washington lawmakers considering new approach to drug possession law (KIRO TV)
- Washington lawmakers look to strengthen laws against ‘revenge porn’ (KOMO TV)
- Deer Park murder suspect was released to the public after 14 prior felony convictions (KREM TV)
- Restaurant shooting caps new Seattle police chief’s violent debut weekend (The Seattle Times)
- Third Tacoma shooting in four days leaves boy, 16, with life-threatening injuries (The News Tribune)
- Puyallup man arrested for Christmas substation attacks to remain in federal detention (KOMO TV)
- ‘Recklessness.’ 2nd man accused in Pierce substation attacks ordered held without bail (The News Tribune)
- Thousands of dollars in damage at Whatcom courthouse break-in (The Bellingham Herald)
- Pierce County prosecutor claims Washington’s drug law is making the community less safe (KOMO TV)
- Idaho car chase suspect gets away because of Washington’s laws restricting law enforcement – 2nd local incident in a week (KQQQ Radio)
- Controversial bail fund once helped man suspected of Seattle’s first murder of the year (KOMO TV)
- Shooting deaths in Seattle increased 23% in 2022 (KING TV)
- Spokane deputies seize drugs, weapons from car outside Camp Hope (The Center Square)
- New details after man allegedly blows up car inside Everett Fred Meyer (MyNorthwest)
- King County prosecutors charge 6 men after large fentanyl, meth bust (The Seattle Times)
- 80 cars stolen per day across King and Pierce counties last month (KUOW Radio)
- One of King County’s largest drug busts yields $10M worth of drugs, over 478k rainbow fentanyl pills (FOX 13)
- Decriminalization of drug possession leaves officers in Clark County on sidelines (The Columbian)
- Rape victim calls her attacker’s plea deal a ‘slap on the wrist’ (MyNorthwest)
- Third Kennewick teen arrested in June Walla Walla murder case (Walla Walla Union-Bulletin)
- FBI, local drug task forces execute one of the largest drug seizures in Eastern Washington history (KREM TV)
- COLUMN: WA Dems responsible as 41,330 cars stolen, now try to ban police traffic stops (Jason Rantz/MyNorthwest)
- 4 people stabbed at Washington state casino, man arrested (AP/KXLY)
- Attempted robbery leads to hours-long standoff in west Olympia (The Olympian)
- As disorder surged, why didn’t Tacoma crack down on South Hosmer Street motels? (The News Tribune)
- Yakima County homicide numbers hit 42-year high (Yakima Herald-Republic)
- Road rage shootings on the rise around western Washington, data shows (KING TV)
- Homicide in Puyallup: Police say barber was shot multiple times as child sat in chair (The News Tribune)
- Columbia River Drug Task Force warns about new Fentanyl (KPQ Radio)
What did majority Democrats do to address public safety in 2022?
Pot-shop protection bill fails to clear Democrat-controlled House
In the days since the end of the session, the news statewide has been filled with stories about armed robberies at cannabis retailers, including some that resulted in deaths. Unfortunately, I predicted this would be the case when Democrats failed to act on my bill to address this issue.
Senate Bill 5927 would have added a year to the prison sentence of someone convicted of first- or second-degree robbery of a cannabis retail outlet. It’s the same extended sentence that goes with the robbery of a pharmacy and would be applied to robberies of cannabis retailers when the crime is planned and carried out by two or more people.
Due to federal banking rules, these businesses are almost entirely cash-only operations, making them a target for robberies and a magnet for criminals. The number of robberies of cannabis stores is on the rise, and this bill would have benefited not just the retailers but the community as a whole.
Majority blocks bills to help address fentanyl crisis
According to the state Department of Health, opioid overdose deaths in Washington rose from 2013 through 2020, driven by heroin deaths, and more recently, fentanyl deaths. Deaths involving fentanyl and other synthetic opioids are now more common than those involving heroin, with the highest death rates and largest increases being seen in rural counties, such as Yakima and Klickitat.
To address this crisis, I introduced two bills this session. Senate Bill 5509 would have excluded fentanyl-testing equipment from the definition of “drug paraphernalia.” Because a single dose of the deadly substance can kill a user, testing can save lives. Senate Bill 5524 would have imposed a life sentence for those convicted of committing a controlled-substances homicide involving fentanyl-laced drugs.
Our testing-strip bill passed the Senate unanimously, but never even received a hearing from the House Public Safety Committee. Our bill increasing the penalty for those convicted of committing homicide with fentanyl-laced drugs was completely ignored by the Senate majority.
Democrats run out the clock on bipartisan pursuit bill
In addition, the majority also ran out the clock on ESB 5919 – Concerning the definition of “physical force,” “necessary,” and “totality of the circumstances,” and the standard for law enforcement authority to use physical force and providing the authority for a peace officer to engage in a vehicular pursuit when there is reasonable suspicion a person has violated the law and the officer follows appropriate safety standards. (Van De Wege) This compromise legislation would have improved the standards for police pursuit, making it easier for law enforcement to do its job.