Violent crime in Washington state has increased by 55% between 2015 and the present, this is according to data from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC).
In just six years (2015-2021), some crimes such as murder increased by 95%. Aggravated assaults accounted for 73% and rape for 51%. In addition, Washington currently ranks second in the nation as the state with the most auto thefts per capita.
The increase in crime is a trend that some legislators attribute to recent police and penal reforms pushed in the state by progressive officials. State Senator Mike Padden commented to The Center Square:
It's a crisis situation, but most here don't seem to realize it at all.
Restricting police work
In 2021, the reform of HB 1054 was a highly criticized measure. This amendment restricted the Police's ability to pursue suspects on foot or in a vehicle, as the change now requires "reasonable suspicion" rather than "probable cause" to initiate pursuit.
According to WASPC, the number of drivers fleeing officers increased by more than 100% from 2021 to 2022. Representative Dan Griffey stated:
People who would do harm to society now know the rules and are following them. We have to be tougher.
The increase in crime is also attributed to the Washington State, Supreme Court decision, which decriminalized simple drug possession in 2021. In the same year, the number of reported thefts increased by 10% from 151,794 (in 2019) to 166,496 (2021). According to Padden:
People who are addicted to drugs have to pay for the drugs in some way, so they get involved in criminal activities that start with attacks against property and end in violent crimes.
The Center Square requested explanations from the Washington Police and Sheriffs Board and have received no response to date.