8th District lawmakers issue statement on passage of police pursuit bill

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CONTACT: Daniel McDonald, Public Information Officer for Rep. April Connors | 360-786-7182
Kelley Payne, Senior Public Information Officer for Rep. Stephanie Barnard | 360-786-7761

8th District lawmakers issue statement on passage of police pursuit bill

The House recently approved a controversial bill that allows police to engage in vehicular pursuits of criminal suspects on a very limited basis.

In 2021, sweeping law enforcement reform that included a higher threshold for when officers could engage in vehicular pursuits was approved by legislative Democrats. Rather than “reasonable suspicion,” officers must meet a higher legal standard of “probable cause.” That change has resulted in an increase in stolen vehicles, reckless driving and additional efforts to flee from police, among other crimes.

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.

8th District Senator Matt Boehnke and Representatives Stephanie Barnard and April Connors issued the following statement regarding the bill’s passage:

“Although this is a small step in the right direction, this bill does not go far enough to fix this failed experiment in police pursuit reform. With surging increases in criminal activity, including car thefts, reckless driving, and those fleeing police, it’s deeply disappointing to see such a watered-down version of the original proposal.

“Our communities deserve better. When the legislative session began, a bill that included Republican and Democratic sponsors was offered as a viable solution. Instead, we’ve been given a bill that will have little impact on improving law enforcement’s ability to protect our communities. This measure would not have allowed troopers to stop the wrong-way driver in Sunnyside who tragically killed two innocent children earlier this year.

“Passage of this bill does not mean that our work is done – far from it. Through the interim and into the next session, we will continue to advocate for more comprehensive and effective solutions to the lawlessness plaguing communities across Washington.”

SB 5352 was approved by the House with a vote of 57-40. The bill now heads to the Senate for a concurrence vote on the amended version of the bill.


Washington State House Republican Communications