Law enforcement and corrections officials, a judge, family members and other officials testified before the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee Monday night, reviewing the events which led up to four Lakewood police officers being murdered in late November. This morning, the same committee listened to testimony on bills reflecting lessons learned.
Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, testified in favor of a constitutional amendment he has sponsored to change bailallowances. He originally sponsored a bill to prevent bail only for those being charged with a third-strike felony offense. At the request of the governor, Hope sponsored a new constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 4220, that would prevent bail for a suspect if detention of the person before trial is the only way to “reasonably assure public safety.”
“The judge in the Maurice Clemmons case didn’t have the opportunity to deny bail to Clemmons, a dangerous, repeat offender. This is our chance to do the right thing, to not just respond, but to act on what is required of us: to protect the public,” Hope said. “Many believe it is reasonable that someone who has committed multiple violent crimes should not be allowed on our streets while awaiting trial for another offense. We cannot give the same felons more chances to harm more police officers and the public. This is about putting our families before felons.”
Some concerns were raised in the hearing about limiting bail for individuals and the presumption of innocence for anyone charged with a crime.
“Allowing a judge to have discretion to prevent bail to a suspect the judge perceives to be a major threat to the community doesn’t mean that person is automatically guilty of a crime,” Hopesaid. “Denying bail simply says that we aren’t willing to take the risk of allowing that individual to interact in our communities.”
Hope has also introduced House Bill 2931 regarding punishments for those who assist suspects sought in a first-degree murder. He had originally proposed changing punishments for those suspected in a police murder only.
“Those who aid someone in a violent crime or hide them from law enforcement should face greater penalties just as the suspects they have helped will face greater penalties,” Hope said. “We have to send a message that you cannot assist someone who has murdered another person and get away with it.”
Hope has also co-sponsored House Bill 1679 to address the story of Jason McKissack, a fellow Seattle police officer. While on duty two years ago, McKissack was beaten and sustained permanent injuries. As a result of current state law, McKissack cannot receive health insurance benefits because he cannot return to the line of duty. The McKissack bill would allow law enforcement officers and firefighters to receive health insurance benefits if they are permanently disabled in the line of duty.
“We must make sure his benefits stay the same until he can be covered by long-term disability,” Hope said. “He was out there risking his life to save another person, and now he and his family should be completely taken care of.”
Contact: Sarah Lamb, public information officer, (360) 786-7720