Previously, we've told you about new laws severely restricting use of force and other policy changes in WA state now for Law Enforcement.

Over a dozen new laws passed the legislature in 2021. One of them could significantly hinder an Officer's ability to chase down and locate suspects from a freshly committed crime.

Whether it's in real life or on TV, we all know victims give a description of a suspect following a crime. Officers fan out, comb the area, and if a person matching that description is spotted, they're stopped, and if necessary chased and detained until it's determined if they are the perp.

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But now, that option appears to be off the table. According to information released by the Snohomish County and Franklin County Sheriff's Departments, what was called "reasonable suspicion" has been replaced by "probable cause."

According to the Sheriff's Departments:

"...if a man was to break into your house while you were inside, you confront him and he runs away, and you call 911 to provide a description of the suspect as “a white male, in his 30s, wearing a red shirt and black shorts, leaving on foot.” It has always been considered reasonable that if a law enforcement officer arrived to the area and saw a suspect matching this description, that we had the legal authority to stop him and if he ran, we were allowed to use reasonable force to chase him and detain him. This would be allowed under the current “reasonable suspicion” threshold. Under HB 1310, this is no longer allowed." (House Bill 1310 is one of the bills passed by legislature--added by Newstalk870 for explanation).

They added:

"With the new threshold being “probable cause,” a deputy sheriff will have to have articulable facts, that are confirmed by a victim or witness, that a specific crime has occurred and the person we are seeking is the one responsible. That means we can no longer stop and detain a fleeing suspect matching a description who is running from the area of a crime that just occurred."

So now when a crime occurs, Law Enforcement will have to make contact with the victim(s) and/or witnesses, confirm the facts of the crime (step by step what happened), develop probable cause, THEN go look for the suspect.

You can imagine how this will throw up roadblocks and cause serious delays in apprehending a suspect, while precious time is ticking, Officers will be bogged down in 'procedures.'

You may recall the TV Show The First 48 Hours. It follows the jobs of  detectives investigating crimes, and often stresses the first 48 hours after a crime are the most important in making progress in apprehending a suspect.

It appears a lot more suspects will be able to elude Officers now with these new laws.


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