Washington Drivers Increasingly Refuse To Stop For Troopers: WSP

WASHINGTON — The Washington State Patrol (WSP) is reporting a dramatic uptick in the number of drivers who flee from troopers instead of pulling over. And as KING 5 first reported, several law enforcement agencies say fleeing drivers are becoming an increasingly common problem.

Washington State Patrol’s Darren Wright confirmed for Patch that, between January 1 and May 17 of this year, 934 different drivers fled from WSP troopers as they tried to initiate a traffic stop. For comparison, during that same time period in 2020, WSP engaged in just 219 vehicle pursuits.

“Something’s changed. People are not stopping right now,” Wright told KING. “It’s happening three to five times a shift on some nights and then a couple times a week on day shift.”

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Other agencies concur. The Puyallup Police Department logged 148 cases of drivers fleeing from officers from July 26 of last year to May 18, 2022, which Chief Scott Engle told KING was “completely absolutely emphatically totally unusual.”

Some police advocates, including Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, argue that the spike is a direct result of HB 1054. HB 1054 was passed last year, and prevents officers from giving chase unless there is probable cause the suspect has committed an escape or a violent offense, or appears to be driving under the influence.

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This year, the state legislature rolled back several of the state’s police reform restrictions, but the pursuit law remains unchanged. Police reform advocates argue that’s for the best, as police chases can turn deadly, quickly. Between 1979 and 2015, more than 5,000 bystanders and passengers were killed in police car chases in America, USA TODAY reported, nearly as many people as police shootings.

>> Read the full story from KING 5.

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Source: Bellevue Patch