Sheriff’s office says police pursuit law again allowed suspect to escape

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Photo provided by the Chelan County Sheriff's Office.

The Chelan County Sheriff’s Office said on Monday they experienced another example of how Washington’s new police pursuit law “ties the hands of all law enforcement in Washington state.”

Part of a package of law enforcement laws passed by the 2021 Legislature, police now must witness a suspect leaving the scene of a crime or believe the suspect presents an immediate threat to public safety in order to have probable cause to pursue their vehicle.

The Chelan Sheriff’s Office said that early Monday someone attempted to take two trailers from Sangsters Motors in Wenatchee but hitch locks caused the trailers to come off the receiver.

A short time later after being alerted by the Wenatchee Police Department, a deputy reported seeing the suspect vehicle traveling westbound on Highway 2, the sheriff’s office said.

The deputy reported the vehicle failed to stop when he activated the cruiser’s lights and at one point did a U-turn in front of the deputy before continuing west.

The sheriff’s office said under House Bill 1054 the deputy could not initiate a pursuit and the suspect escaped.

“Our deputies want nothing more than to pursue suspects and make arrests of those who violate these laws,” the sheriff’s office said in a social media post. “This recent legislation now ties the hand of all law enforcement in Washington State.”

House Bill 1054  also restricted the use of tear gas, and bans chokeholds and neck restraints.