Sen. Mankha Dhingra on proposed changes to bill prohibiting police from chasing suspects

Many areas in Western Washington are seeing a spike in crime, and police say they’re handcuffed when they try to catch criminals who decide to speed away.

House Bill 1054 prohibits officers from chasing a suspect unless they have reasonable suspicion of a DUI, or probable cause for a violent crime or sex crime.

Officers say suspects know they can run, and the cops won’t chase them. So a bipartisan group of lawmakers presented some changes to fix it — but the head of the Senate Law and Justice Committee, State Sen. Manka Dhingra is blocking it.

KIRO 7 asked her why during a conversation recorded earlier this week.

“When the high speed chase bill went into effect, at that time, the problem we had seen was that 50% of the individuals killed during high speed chases were individuals that had nothing to do with the pursuit,” Dhingra said. “They were innocent bystanders. Now, since that policy has gone into effect, there has been a 73% decline in innocent Washingtonians being hurt, injured or killed due to high speed chases.”

Dhingra said that in the year-and-a-half before HB 1054 was passed, there were 11 deaths connected to high speed chases. Since then, she says there have only been three.

“When people tell me their observations and experiences … I’m happy to listen to everyone who has stories,” Dhingra said. “It’s also disheartening to hear about individua;s whose family member has been killed while they were simply crossing the street.”