Snohomish County leaders push video calling for changes to police reform laws in Washington

Law enforcers and lawmakers in Snohomish County released a new video calling for Washington legislators to change police reform laws enacted last year.

The 5-minute video features leaders from the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office, Chelan County Sheriff's Office, Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, Marysville, Everett, Edmonds, Arlington, Lake Stevens, Monroe police departments, Snohomish City Council, as well as the Mayors of Arlington, Sultan, Lake Stevens, Marysville and Everett. 

All of them blaming laws that restrict police pursuits and the Washington Supreme Court's State vs Blake decision which rules the felony drug possession law unconstitutional.

"The reality is that public safety decreases as criminals become more brazen knowing police can not pursue them to enforce the law," Adam Fortney, Snohomish County Sheriff said in the video.

While the video shows police body camera footage and mentions an increase in auto theft, keep in mind, these laws were enacted last summer.

"It's going to take a while to get data that addresses these new changes," said Marco Monteblanco, President of the Washington State Fraternal Order of Police.

Monteblanco believes current laws can be tweaked to find balance between enforcement of drug laws but also for individuals to have treatment options.

Leslie Cushman, of the Washington Coalition for Police Accountability told FOX 13 that she wouldn't watch the video, saying:

"Some law enforcement leadership and some mayors are sensationalizing this and using misinformation to stoke fear.  The vehicular pursuit standards address the inherent danger in hot pursuits and limits those pursuits to incidents where the benefit of the pursuit outweighs the risk.  It was good policy then, and it is good policy now.  We need to focus on evidence and facts, and what keeps us safe."

VOCAL-WA's Project Director, Malika Lamont also provided this statement to FOX 13:

"Efforts to address abuses of the criminal legal system and to mitigate the failures and harm of the War on Drugs, have been imperfect and there may be valuable adjustments that can be made. A consensus building process that recognizes all the legitimate concerns in play, similar to the process used when I940 was adopted, would be wise. These criminal legal system reforms weren't a mistake, they corrected past errors, but we can always refine and learn from unintended consequences.

Regarding the Blake decision, most people in WA feel that a criminal enforcement response to simple possession isn't the right approach to the crisis of drug use. The officials in the video are right that we need to do more, not less. We should build a much better new system together. We welcome their partnership."

Monteblanco also believes in a path forward together.

"It's important that we all come together to make sure we create sound policy on this legislative session to address both sides," said Monteblanco

The video ends with law enforcement and elected leaders calling Washingtonians to call local representatives to put pressure on changing these laws.