Other leftist fail: Washington “police reform” plan has massively backfired on those in mental crisis

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OLYMPIA, WA – Following the riots and protests in 2020, Democratic leaders in the State of Washington vowed to reform the police, and in doing so, are now reaping some unintended consequences.

Some of the police reforms have essentially handcuffed police in terms of involuntarily taking custody of those in mental crisis.

House Bill 1310 was written into law as part of a sweeping police reform bill that was designed to lessen the risk of police using force.

The law required officers only to use force in situations where they have developed probable cause that someone has committed a crime or an imminent threat to injury.

In response to this new law, many police agencies interpreted it to mean that officers could not use force on someone who is in mental crisis but has not committed a crime or is in immediate danger of being harmed.

That meant that if the person refused to consent to be transported, the officer was prevented from using force to transport them.

The new law mandated that physical force must be restricted but did not define how. That left municipal attorneys navigating when law enforcement could use force and went with the strictest interpretation to lessen civil and criminal liability.

The SFGATE spoke to Diane Ostrander, whose son was caught in the middle of the unintended consequences of this law. Ostrander’s son was apparently in mental crisis, and she reached out to the police on several occasions to get him help.

However, instead of the police taking her son into custody and transporting him to a mental health facility, they told him there was nothing they could do because he would not consent to transport.

Ostrander was told by police that the new law prevented officers from taking her son into custody against his will.

Therefore, unless her son committed a crime or posed an immediate threat of injury, their hands were tied.

Sadly, Ostrander’s son did commit a crime when he began punching her at a traffic light as she was trying to take him to a mental health facility.

Police were called and took him into custody for the crime and were able to get him into a mental health facility after the arrest. Instead of blaming the political leaders who wrote and passed the confusing law, she instead blamed the police:

“I said, ‘I don’t get it, why won’t you help him?’ I thought are the police just doing this to use me as a pawn to get their story told or what? It’s my son’s life here.”

The hard part for her or anyone else to understand is that the responding police officers are following the direction provided to them by their superiors who are getting their orders from city attorneys.

The city attorneys are ordering limited response from the officers so that the officers do not place themselves in positions to create liability for the city, agency, and themselves.

What police are forced to navigate in this law is what is imminent and what is not.

For instance, an officer could be speaking with an individual who is sitting on their couch and refusing to leave. That person may be talking to people who are not there or threatening to shoot someone when they have no access to weapons.

In simple terms, it is not illegal to be in a mental crisis and if they are sitting on a couch and have no access to weapons, they are seemingly not an imminent threat to themselves or others.

If the officer resorts to force to take the person into custody and they die, will the officer be deemed justified down the road?

Democratic State Representative Tina Orwall acknowledges the bill, as it is written, is confusing and causing problems. She has vowed that she will work to get the law fixed as soon as she is able. She said:

“I know we’re going to fix it and fix it soon.”

Other leftist fail: Washington "police reform" plan has massively backfired on those in mental crisis

‘Crime spike fee’: Business charging customers a fee to try and make up for massive losses from theft

DENVER, CO – A business owner in downtown Denver has decided to charge a small fee in all purchases to make up for the financial losses he is having due to retail theft.

He’s calling it the “crime spike fee.”

 

Derek Friedman, the owner of several different Sportsfan and Sock Em Sock Emporium stores throughout Denver has reported shoplifting has tripled in his downtown and Federal Boulevard locations since 2019. Friedman reports the financial loss to the company is in the tens of thousands and is making it difficult for him to keep his stores open.

Friedman reports that the financial losses are significant, in the thousands. He said:

“We’re talking about six figures for a really small business like us, and that is meaningful. It impacts our employees, and, more importantly, it now is going to impact our shoppers.”

So that his stores can remain open, Friedman has decided to start charging all customers a 1% fee to help recoup some of the financial losses caused by theft. Friedman calls it the “Denver Crime Spike Fee.” He said:

“[It’s the] Denver Crime Spike Fee, and so that’ll be a 1% transaction fee for all of the items that are purchased in our stores.”

Friedman believes the spike in crime in Denver is caused by the legal system, which, in his opinion, is not giving any consequences for the thieves when they are arrested and charged. He said:

“There’s zero consequences, I think, for property crime in the Denver area. It seems like it’s dropped to barely anything.”

 

While the small fee may help out recoup some of the financial losses, Friedman still notes that it is hard for him to attract employees because of the crime. He said:

“When you have the impact of having someone come in and wander around the store and then grab a jersey and a hat and pull out a machete and walk out, it does have an issue with your ability to recruit and retain employees.”

The Denver Crime Spike fee will become active in February and Friedman hopes that he can keep it at only 1%. He said that he hopes that city leaders will see what he is doing and realize there is an issue and hopefully take some action.

Friedman said:

“My hope is over the course of the coming months, some different approaches are taken to enforcement and police presence and attitudes towards police and the great job that they do protecting businesses like ours.”

One city leader, the Denver Police Chief, agrees with Friedman’s opinion that there is a “lack of accountability and consequences” which is emboldening criminals. Chief Paul Pazen recently spoke to the Colorado Springs Gazette in a Zoom video in which he blasted the judicial system.

Chief Pazen reports that his officers are making plenty of arrests, but as soon as the criminals get to the jail they are provided extremely low bail amounts, sometimes as little as $1.

And what may be worse is the new Misdemeanor Reform bill will go into effect on March 1st which will prohibit officers from making arrests for traffic, petty, municipal, misdemeanor, and several felony offenses.

Instead, officers would be required to issue those suspects court dates.

Some of the felonies that officers would no longer be allowed to make arrests on include identity theft, criminal trespassing, car theft, criminal extortion, internet luring of a child, arson, burglary, bringing contraband into a prison, bribing witnesses or juries, buying a gun, property theft, voting illegally, inciting a riot and…the list goes on.

 

Concerned that these reforms are only going to cause a further increase in crime, Chief Pazen said:

“We already have more felons that we’ve been arresting with guns, more felons that we are seeing utilizing weapons on our streets involved in these shootings, in these homicides. And now, we are changing what that qualifying felony looks like.”

Chief Pazen then added:

“The criminal justice system does not exist to try to get people out of jail – the criminal justice system exists to keep people safe. And when I talk to people, they don’t feel safe.”

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