Padden hopes traffic deaths, crime will drop as initiative restoring police pursuits goes into effect

Today marks the day when Initiative 2113, which restores police pursuits in Washington, goes into effect. State Sen. Mike Padden said the initiative, which was approved by the Legislature last March, should results in fewer traffic deaths in the state.

“Washington state is experiencing an increase in fatal and serious-injury crashes on our roads and highways that is shocking and heartbreaking. I-2113 should help officers apprehend dangerous drivers and make our roads and highways safer,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley.

The 4th District senator pointed to a recent Washington Traffic Safety Commission report revealing the state has reached a 33-year high for traffic fatalities. The report showed 810 people were killed in crashes involving a motor vehicle last year, an increase from 743 killed in 2022.

Of these 810 traffic deaths, nearly half (400) involved a drug- or alcohol-impaired driver, while 251 involved excessive speed, 171 involved not wearing a seatbelt or other restraint, and 135 involved a distracted driver.

“There are several factors that have resulted in the high number of traffic fatalities in recent years, but a key one has been the inability for officers to pursue vehicles in many situations. With I-2113 in effect, officers can pursue drivers in more instances and get them off our highways,” said Padden, the Republican leader on the Senate Law and Justice Committee.

Padden noted I-2113 will help reverse the growing crime problem in Washington.

“Crime is perhaps the greatest concern for citizens and communities throughout our state,” said Padden. “In fact, we have reached a crisis point in our state because of skyrocketing crime.

“After the Legislature passed laws a few years ago that restricted law-enforcement officers from pursuing suspects, criminals became more emboldened. They have acted in a more brazen manner as they commit crimes. The result was a sharp increase in auto theft, retail theft, burglary and other property crimes. Making matters worse, many auto thieves have used their stolen vehicles to smash into ‘pot shops’ to steal cash, or they use these cars as battering rams to break into other stores to steal merchandise.

“With Initiative 2113 now in effect, law-enforcement officers again are able to pursue suspects instead of helplessly watching them drive away,” added Padden.

The Washington State Patrol recorded nearly 8,000 incidents of drivers refusing to stop for troopers in the years after a controversial 2021 state law restricted police officers from chasing suspects.