New statewide crime numbers confirm importance of reestablishing public safety, says Republican leader

CENTRALIA… The state Senate’s Republican leader says new numbers showing crime has continued to increase across Washington should give legislators even more reason to focus on public-safety measures next year – beyond what the governor is belatedly supporting.

The 2021 Crime in Washington report has murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault up from the year before, with homicides reaching an all-time high. The corresponding 2020 report from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs had violent crime at a 25-year high, and the new statistics prove 2021 was even worse. Vehicle theft, burglary, larceny and destruction of property, all categorized as property crimes, are also up.

“The 2020 report led Senate Republicans to make the reestablishment of public safety one of our top three priorities ahead of this year’s legislative session. It’s frustrating to see how crime has continued to increase in one category after another, knowing how we were alone in advocating for public-safety legislation,” said Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia.

“Until these new statistics came out yesterday Governor Inslee had been very quiet about the crime wave hurting families and employers across our state. Today we’re told he will finally engage on the need to recruit and train more officers. Yet the governor was nowhere to be seen months ago when we already knew Washington had the fewest law-enforcement officers per capita in the nation, and his allies in the Legislature were blocking our bill to help communities rebuild their depleted law-enforcement agencies.

“If the governor is truly beginning to come around to where Republicans already are on addressing the decline in safety in our communities, his actions will speak louder than his words. Otherwise, it will be fair to question whether his sudden interest in law enforcement is sincere or just for appearance’s sake.”

People also shouldn’t be misled by how yesterday’s crime report shows a 60% drop in drug/narcotics violation offenses since 2020, Braun explained. That’s because the 2021 law responding to the state Supreme Court’s Blake decision essentially legalizes hard drugs.

“The consequences of abusing hard drugs are still easy to see in many communities. It’s just that the radical change in the law, which the governor supported, has made it impossible for law-enforcement officers to do what they used to do – to engage and intervene with drug abusers in a way that could force them into treatment.”

Braun said the next Legislature needs to reform the anti-police laws adopted in 2021, which he said have been welcome news to criminals.

“It’s no wonder more and more people are feeling like they’re on their own when it comes to protecting their families and their property. If this year’s news reports are any indication, especially the shootings that seem to happen almost daily in the Puget Sound region, things are still moving in the wrong direction. There’s also been a lack of urgency to deal with property crimes like car theft. Those are not victimless crimes. Legislators need to be serious about putting the protection of our communities and the needs of victims first.”