(NewsNation) — A new law in Washington state that places restrictions on police pursuits has resulted in suspects calling 911 to prevent officers from chasing them.
In one call released by the Redmond Police Department, a man admits he is driving on a suspend license, but tells the operator when she asks him if he can pull over: “No … he’s not going to get me.”
House Bill 1054 requires that officers receive permission from a supervisor to initiate a chase. Proponents of the legislation, including its sponsor state Rep. Jesse Johnson, said it would improve public safety by reducing the number of deaths caused by police pursuits, among other things.
But police departments have pushed back, saying the measure hampers their ability to catch criminals. According to the Washington State Patrol, officers have logged nearly 2,500 incidents of drivers failing to stop for a state trooper trying to pull them over.
And now, suspects themselves are reporting police. In another call aired on “The Jason Rantz Show,” a man who was suspected of holding a woman hostage sped off with the alleged victim inside the car. He told a 911 operator “I was sleeping in my car” and to tell the police “it’s an illegal pursuit.”
Steve Strachan, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, said the incidents are becoming frequent.
“In my career .. I’ve never seen the flouting of the law that we’re seeing now,” Strachan said. “The word is out among the criminals.”
Despite the pushback, lawmakers have opted against making changes to the law.
Johnson told KING-TV that “it’s not going to increase public safety to put things back the way it was before, by any means.” Instead, he advocated for more police tools such as drones to track suspects.
There’s a bipartisan desire to revise the law, Strachan said, and he hopes lawmakers will find a way forward in the next legislative session that begins in January.
“We’re hearing from people on both sides of the aisle that they realize this isn’t acceptable,” Strachan said. “It’s not about more chases, it’s about sending a message to criminals that it’s not a get-out-of-jail-free card if you have a car.”