Republicans lead Senate’s passage of bill to correct damage to public-safety laws

OLYMPIASenate Republican Leader John Braun of Centralia made this statement following tonight’s approval of Senate Bill 5919, which would restore some of the public-safety tools lost by law-enforcement agencies due to anti-police bills adopted by majority legislators in 2021:

“Many people across our state feel less safe today because the majority’s restrictions on law enforcement have clearly backfired. Republicans came into this session with a priority on reestablishing public safety, and our role in improving and passing SB 5919 is a step forward on that path.

“The criminals know important tools were taken away from our law-enforcement agencies. They know officers are unable to respond to 9-1-1 calls and other situations the way they could have just one year ago, because without the standard of ‘reasonable suspicion’ it is much more difficult to detain or pursue someone. The damage to public safety is clear from the numbers. Preliminary data from this past year has Seattle reporting nearly 1,000 more violent crimes than in 2020, and in King County, the reported number of gunshot victims – including victims of shootings involving criminal gangs – doubled from just 4 years earlier, hitting an all-time high. And it’s not just about apprehending criminals: Under the changes made in 2021, officers don’t even have the authority to use physical force when dealing with a person experiencing a mental-health crisis.

“This bill doesn’t resolve all of the public-safety concerns created by the majority’s actions this past year – but the amendments proposed by Republicans on the Senate floor have made this measure stronger, and our votes made sure it passed. I hope the House follows the Senate’s lead, so the pendulum of public policy can begin to swing away from the criminals, and back toward the people who put their trust in government to keep the peace and enforce laws effectively.”

The vote was 31-18, with all 21 members of the Senate Republican Caucus voting yes, joined by 10 senators from the Senate majority.