WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — Citing vehicle theft data from the Washington State Patrol, the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) issued a press release this week that notes the number of vehicles reported stolen statewide year-to-date and compared with same months in 2021 have increased about 90%, nearly double.
• Vehicle thefts have increased 88 percent year-to-date for 2022 compared to 2021 through the end of March.
• Vehicle thefts have increased 99 percent for March 2022 compared to March 2021Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (April 13, 2022)
The Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office, in an April 15th press release, noted “the number of motor vehicles reported stolen countywide in Whatcom County exceeds statewide increases.”
- Vehicle thefts have increased 331% year-to-date for 2022 compared to 2021
- Vehicle thefts have increased 600% for March 2022 compared to March 2021
That same press release provided the following monthly totals of vehicle thefts reported throughout Whatcom County (unincorporated and incorporated areas included) which reflects even greater increases comparing 2021 with 2022.
In the WCSO press release, Sheriff Bill Elfo says the increases can be attributed to 2021 legislation that prohibits law enforcement from pursuing stolen vehicles and inadequate jail space “that has resulted in an inability to hold most property crime offenders in custody.”
WASPC Executive Director Steve Strachan is quoted in the WASPC press release, “The data show what our law enforcement and communities are seeing out there every day—the word is out and criminals know what they can do under our current laws.”
The police reform laws limiting when law enforcement could use force, including pursuing and detaining suspects, went into effect on July 25, 2021.
The ACLU of Washington reported fatal encounters with police in Washington dropped following enactment of the 2021 legislative changes, but recent data indicates that has increased in 2022.
The Washington State Senate and House of Representatives passed two bills in the 2022 session that restored law enforcement’s authority to use force in certain situations. These include, “to protect against a criminal offense when there is probable cause that a person has committed or is committing [a crime]” and when a subject flees while in “temporary investigative detention.” These were signed by Governor Inslee in March and immediately went into effect.
I’d like to ask under what circumstances it would be justifiable to shoot or kill somebody who is not at the moment a threat to the officer’s life or the physical safety of bystanders? I’m all for more jail space etc.– willing to be taxed for it. We just seem to see too many stops, including traffic stops for minor vehicle problems, that wind up in a wrestling match and weapon fired. I’m not sure how many people are stealing cars where the theft is immediately reported and police are in hot pursuit within minutes. I suspect most such thefts are discovered later so then an investigation begins. In other words, usually not an immediate hot pursuit. The real question is should activities be started, over property, that may result in a shooting. That’s the history of things in the U.S. Property has been king. Mess with somebody’s property and your life is at risk. So now we’re asking if that’s what we want. The way you avoid skyrocketing insurance premiums due to theft is get the thieves off the street — have enough court and jail capacity. I’ve felt for a long time that police don’t have enough reliable, non-lethal tools available. We’ve found ways to open up an enemy tank like a soup can, let’s get those folks working on more non-lethal police tools. If the new laws allow people to walk away when an officer wants to ask questions, I think it would be justifiable for that to escalate to tasing, but not shooting. We need crimes to be solved and if it takes up 15 minutes you really didn’t want to spend talking to an officer, consider it your civic duty.
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