[7/28/21] Stolen Vehicle Pursuit Changes Stymie County
Washington’s new police reform laws no longer allow law enforcement to pursue a fleeing vehicle unless there is probable cause that a serious felony has occurred. That hampered the capturing of a man who, wearing a yellow dress, allegedly stole a privately owned school bus from Leavenworth over the weekend. The bus, which was owned by Osprey Rafting, was recovered in Moses Lake, but afterward the man who allegedly stole the bus then hitchhiked to Spokane and then to Chewelah, where he allegedly stole a front-end loader and drove it into his house. 39-year-old Andrew Loudon had been released from Western Hospital Saturday morning, and was arrested Sunday on charges of Motor Vehicle Theft, Possession of a Stolen Vehicle, Malicious Mischief, First degree/domestic violence, and Attempting to Elude a Police Vehicle.
Chelan County Sheriff Deputies tried to stop the fleeing bus, but without success. Then Douglas County’s Sheriff’s Deputies followed the vehicle once it entered East Wenatchee, but discontinued the pursuit due to the new state laws regarding pursuits. Chelan County Sheriff Brian Burnett says Loudon’s case is a textbook example of bad policy:
The new law states four elements are required for law enforcement to pursue a vehicle:
- Probable Cause for a VIOLENT OFFENSE, SEX OFFENSE or ESCAPE (from custody or detention facility) or reasonable suspicion for DUI
- Pursuit is necessary to identify or apprehend the person AND
- The driver possess an imminent threat to the safety of OTHERS, AND the risk of failing to apprehend or identify the person is greater than the risks of vehicle pursuit AND
- Supervisor has provided authorization.
If these four elements are not all met, law enforcement cannot pursue vehicles in Washington State.