The Washington State Senate unanimously passed House Joint Resolution 4220, also known as the Lakewood Police Officers’ Memorial Act.
Rep. Mike Hope, the prime sponsor of the bill and a Seattle police officer, was pleased the Senate passed the bill to allow a judge to deny bail to the most dangerous suspects in the state. An amendment passed in a Senate committee last week caused concern and elicited opposition from the law enforcement community as well as Hope.
“There’s been so much work put into getting this constitutional amendment right before we send it to the voters,” said Hope, R-Lake Stevens. “I appreciate the governor interceding to make sure we covered the most dangerous offenders under this bill, and did not water down the provisions. This is probably the most important public safety piece of legislation we will pass in our lifetimes. It will literally save lives by keeping dangerous suspects with nothing to lose off our streets.”
Hope said his colleagues in the House are pleased with the Senate’s latest amendment introduced on the Senate floor, which includes any suspect facing a life sentence. The Senate also added a provision for bail to be denied when there is convincing evidence and a likelihood of danger to the public if a person is not kept in custody.
“Today is a great day for the citizens of this state. After the tragic murder of four police officers in Lakewood, there was a public outcry regarding why the suspect in that case was out on bail with nothing to lose and a clearly dangerous record. Today the Legislature proves it will act on what we learned from that,” Hope said. “Our state’s founders set up the constitution to evolve with the changes of our day, but bail limitations have shrunk as penalties have changed. The public deserves to feel safe where they live, work and play, and today we fix an uncovered discrepancy in our laws.”
The bill now goes back to the House to accept the Senate’s final amendment, which is expected soon. It will then go directly to the ballot for voters to consider in November. The governor will not have an opportunity to sign the bill. Voters would need to pass the constitutional amendment by simple majority to change the state constitution.