In 2021, police were restricted from pursuing suspects for most crimes, emboldening criminals to push the boundaries as a result. During the 2023 legislature, lawmakers took partial steps to fix the pursuit legislation, allowing pursuit for “reasonable suspicion.”
Senate Bill 5352 passed earlier this year, and law enforcement is not, theoretically, allowed to pursue suspected criminals for at least a narrow list of criminal offenses.. While the law that passed fell short of including property crimes, it was at least a step in the right direction.
Interestingly, some departments, such as SPD, have not yet updated their vehicle pursuit policies despite the new law.
KIRO radio’s Jason Rantz reported earlier in May that a provision of the new law requires that officers engaging in a pursuit must have completed the emergency vehicle operators course and emergency vehicle operator training within the past two years. Without the completed training, an officer can’t pursue suspected criminals. While the finer details of the training course will change depending on the department, the idea is simple: law enforcement officers should be adept in emergency vehicle maneuvers and safety techniques so that, if they need to pursue, it can be done safely.
Mike Solan, the president of the Seattle Police Officers Guild, told Jason Rantz, “The fact is, we’re out of compliance with the training. If we engage in a pursuit, we’re violating state law.” Apparently, the last time Seattle had its emergency vehicle operations curriculum (EVOC) training, it was back in 2020, and not very many officers attended.