Home  |  About Dan  |  News & Media  |  Email Updates  |  The Ledger  |  Contact

Print Friendly, PDF & Email


Dear Friends,

It’s week three of the short 2024 legislative session, and I have been busy working for you. One of my top priorities this session remains public safety. That includes increasing the number of law enforcement officers in our state – and importantly – supporting those officers.

I want to share some sobering facts.

  • According to a recent Washington Association of Sheriff’s and Police Chiefs report, our state ranks dead last – behind all other states and D.C. – in law enforcement officers per capita.
  • WASPC reports homicides have risen 96% since 2019 – a new state record.
  • The WA Criminal Justice Snapshot shows 61% of violent crimes go unsolved.
  • WA is 3rd in the country for auto thefts.
  • WA is 2nd in the country for property crime.
  • WA is 1st in the nation of states most impacted by retail crime.

A big reason for these numbers is the majority party’s shift away from holding people accountable for things like retail and property crimes in recent years. However, the other significant part of the equation is the shortage of law enforcement officers in our communities, and to fix that, we must support our first responders.

I am proud to be a cosponsor of House Bill 2311, which requires the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission to convene a task force on first responder wellness in Washington. As a retired firefighter who was on the job over 30 years, I can’t stress enough how important it is that we have a process for ensuring our police, firefighters and other first responders get the mental health supports they need. These are tough jobs that bring those of us privileged enough to do them face-to-face with devastating tragedies and terrifying situations on a regular basis, and that takes a toll. The state must ensure these folks have all the support they need by creating this task force, increasing access to peer counselors, and using $3,000,000 to establish a law enforcement officer wellness grant program.

Fentanyl Crisis

The fentanyl crisis remains top of mind. This session, I am cosponsoring House Bill 2233, which creates an imminent harm so children can be removed from homes where parents/guardians are actively using hard drugs such as fentanyl, heroin, or meth. This bill is a direct response to the unacceptable increase – nearly 100 – in deaths of young children in Washington state due to exposure to fentanyl or other hard drugs. I also support bills focused on treatment, including House Bill 2469, which strengthens Washington’s involuntary treatment law.

Did you know Washington is number one in the nation for retail theft? This is a direct result of our lack of accountability for shoplifters, car thieves, and others who have been allowed to get away with these acts under our current system. I am still pushing for a hearing on the bill I introduced last session on organized retail theft. Under our existing law, a person can’t be arrested until they leave a store with whatever merchandise they are stealing. House Bill 1456 changes the law so the person can be stopped when they have an item or items hidden with the intent to steal it while still in the store.

Sexually Violent Predators

The release of sexually violent predators (SVPs) into our communities remains one of my top priorities. I have sponsored and/or cosponsored a series of bills we hope to get hearings on that will completely overhaul the current system to ensure local communities and law enforcement are adequately notified and given a voice in the constitutionally required process. The bills also require the state to operate the less restrictive alternatives (LRAs) that SVPs are released to to ensure accountability and more. Stay tuned as I will have more to say on these efforts in future updates.

Initiatives to the Legislature

I am so glad to see the people of our state fight to be heard on public safety by sending an Initiative to the Legislature to fix Washington’s dangerous vehicular pursuit policy.

The current limits on police pursuits were part of sweeping police reforms passed by the majority in recent years that have had devastating consequences. While we were able to lose some of those restrictions on pursuits last session, it was not good enough.

Now, more than 430,000 Washingtonians signed on to Initiative 2113 to ensure they get a say.

Currently, a police officer can engage in a vehicular pursuit if:

  • there is reasonable suspicion to believe that a person in the vehicle is committing or has committed a violent offense, a sex offense, a vehicular assault offense, a domestic violence offense, an escape, or driving under the influence;
  • the pursuit is necessary to identify and apprehend the person; and
  • the person poses a serious risk of harm to others, and the safety risks of failing to apprehend the person are greater than the safety risks of the pursuit.

The initiative would change the law to allow vehicular pursuits if:

  • there is a reasonable suspicion that a person has violated the law;
  • the pursuit is necessary to identify and apprehend the person; and
  • the person poses a threat to the safety of others and the safety risks of failing to apprehend the person are greater than the safety risks of the pursuit.

State lawmakers have three options when presented with a certified initiative to the legislature:

  1. Pass the initiative as written;
  2. Do nothing and send the initiative to the voters;
  3. Pass an alternative that appears side by side on the ballot next to the original initiative.

We feel strongly that this initiative and several others recently certified by the Secretary of State should be given prompt hearings so the people – you – can have their say publicly. Unfortunately, the majority party does not see it that way and killed our motions to order the appropriate committees to schedule hearings on these initiatives to the Legislature. That means the fate of Washington’s police pursuit law and important tax and affordability issues will likely be decided by the people in November.

Currently, five initiatives to the Legislature have been certified.

  • I-2113 (Police Pursuits);
  • I-2117 (Repealing the Climate Commitment Act/Cap and Trade/gas prices);
  • I-2109 (Repealing the Capital Gains Tax);
  • I-2081 (Guaranteeing parents can review their child’s school curriculum.
  • I-2111 (prohibits state and local personal income taxes)

Coming soon

Be sure and to keep an eye out for my next update early next month, where I will share details of an upcoming telephone town hall where I can hear directly from you.

For now, please remember you can always reach out with any thoughts, questions, or concerns directly on my legislative website here.

Sincerely,


Dan Griffey

State Representative Dan Griffey, 35th Legislative District
RepresentativeDanGriffey.com
403 John L. O'Brien Building | P.O. Box 40600 | Olympia, WA 98504-0600
dan.griffey@leg.wa.gov
(360) 786-7966 | Toll-free: (800) 562-6000