KENNEWICK — April 14, 2023 — The Washington Fraternal Order of Police (WAFOP) today issued the following statement regarding two pieces of important public safety legislation being debated in Olympia:

“The members of the Washington Fraternal Order of Police support ESB 5352 as adopted by the House and believe that it creates a meaningful pursuit policy balance, will provide officers some additional tools to pursue people who commit crimes, and to determine when a vehicular pursuit is appropriate,” said WAFOP President Marco Monteblanco. “The bill changes the standard in determining whether a pursuit is justified from ‘probable cause’ to ‘reasonable suspicion.’ It also includes a provision that allows officers to use their judgment in balancing the risk of a pursuit against the risk that a suspect poses to the community for crimes not included in the bill, and adjusts the standard for measuring that community risk from ‘imminent threat’ to a ‘serious risk of harm.’”

“Taken together, these are important changes that provide greater certainty and will provide peace officers with the ability to use the law, their training, experience and judgement in making decisions regarding police pursuits,” Monteblanco said.

“We are encouraged that legislators from both parties have collaborated to get ESB 5352 to this point, and we support its concurrence by the Senate.”

In contrast, Monteblanco expressed concerns that E2SSB 5536 as passed by the House, has become increasingly one-sided as it has moved through the legislative process. The bill aims to update Washington’s controlled substance statutes in response to the State Supreme Court’s Blake decision.

“The bill language that passed the Senate did so with bipartisan support,” he said. “The Senate version of the bill properly balanced what we consider to be the three pillars of effectively dealing with substance abuse disorder cases: treatment, accountability, and consequences.

“Subsequent versions that passed the House committees have become increasingly one sided, to the point where the version that was voted off the House floor was nearly on a pure party-line vote. Three of the four caucuses in Olympia have expressed support for the approach taken in the original Senate bill, and our organization would be more comfortable with that approach as well,” Monteblanco said.

“While the House bill does take one important step forward by making possession and public use of controlled substances a criminal offense, it would rely on the discretion of prosecutors and judges to impose serious enough consequences for offenders to enter into and complete treatment programs. Our members, many of whom will be making these arrests, believe that some additional guidance could be given to prosecutors and judges by the Legislature in order to gain the necessary votes for passage by both the House and Senate.

“Regardless of the approach taken in the final bill, it’s critical that lawmakers provide enough funding for the increased volume of cases that will undoubtedly be seen in the local judicial system,” Monteblanco added.

“It’s imperative that the Legislature come to an agreement on the Blake response before they adjourn next week. Our communities simply cannot continue to live with the current situation.”


Copyright © Washington State Fraternal Order of Police