Burien Chief of Police expresses frustration about inability to pursue criminals
Burien Chief of Police Ted Poe took to social media this week to express his frustration with the state law that prevents pursuit of suspects.
That law, passed in 2021 prevents pursuit of suspects without probable cause. The frustration in Chief Poe's post echoes that of other police departments and has led to a widespread perception that crime is increasing since there is less accountability, less chance of being pursued and caught.
On March 8 the Washington State Senate narrowly passed a bill, similar to one passed by the House that updates and modifies the law.
Senate Bill 5352 would allow a police officer to engage in a pursuit if they have "reasonable suspicion" a person has committed or is committing a violent or sexual crime, domestic violence cases, escape, and driving under the influence.
For Poe, this update would not mean much.
I rarely express my angst on social media, but today as your police chief find myself incredibly frustrated with the restrictions placed on police by the Washington State Legislature under RCW 10.116.060, enacted in 2022. While I have no doubt the law is well intended, this morning your Burien Police Officers located two people in the act of committing their second commercial burglary in a matter of hours and had to let them drive away. The victim businesses are out thousands of dollars. Officers did everything in their power to apprehend the suspects, but the law doesn’t allow the officers to pursue criminals under these circumstances. That’s right- under state law, burglary is not a Class A felony and therefore we are not allowed to engage in a pursuit, to include using legal intervention methods such as the Pursuit Immobilization Technique (PIT) or spike strips. Your officers are trained to safely end pursuits using these tactics but are not given that opportunity under the currently law except under very limited circumstances. As the suspects removed all identifying information from the vehicle and obscured their faces, there are few investigative leads in this case and those responsible will likely not be brought to justice. I applaud our officers for doing everything in their power to catch these criminals and feel for the businesses left to pay for the damages. ~Chief Boe