After Washington State passed a law to constrain police officers, state drivers are refusing to pull over when asked by cops.
Northwest News Network recorded nearly 1,000 failure-to-yield incidents in 2022. Patrol officers have described a sharp rise in motorists fleeing traffic stops, speeding away sometimes in stolen cars, according to one county police chief. Washington House Bill 1054, which Governor Jay Inslee (D.) signed into law last year, has banned police from pursuing traffic violators in their cruisers, unless the officer is granted permission by a supervisor or the perpetrator is suspected of being under the influence or having committed a violent offense, is causing imminent danger, or must be identified.
"Something's changed. People are not stopping right now," a Washington State Patrol sergeant told the Associated Press. "It's happening three to five times a shift on some nights and then a couple times a week on day shift."
The change comes as elected officials have passed laws to restrict traditional policing tactics involving the use of force and the duty to intervene in cases of officer misconduct. More than half of U.S. states instituted such reforms since the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
Washington State Republican lawmakers and law enforcement leaders criticized the police bill, saying it has hamstrung the efforts of law enforcement to preserve public safety, according to the AP.
Democratic state lawmakers, however, lauded the bill, with its chief sponsor saying he doesn't "believe pursuits in a 21st century policing system are needed."
Crime data for Washington are not yet available. Homicides, often considered the leading indicator of a crime tendency, were up 46 percent in 2020.