Lake Stevens Journal - Your hometown newspaper since 1960

 

Lessons learned can turn into thoughtful legislation

 

January 22, 2010



Tina Griswold. Ronald Owens. Mark Renninger. Greg Richards. Two months ago, most of us didn’t know their names. Now, we think of the brutal shooting that took these four police officers’ lives in Lakewood. We think of the suspect, Maurice Clemmons, and wonder how someone could harm someone sworn to protect them.

As a Seattle police officer, with the fresh memory of the murder of Seattle’s own Officer Timothy Brenton, I was shocked. We’re trained to deal with dangerous suspects. And we know that what we do is dangerous. But to see so many of my fellow comrades killed in such a short time, I didn’t understand.

When I found out more about Clemmons, I couldn’t believe this kind of individual had slipped through the cracks. I’ve sponsored and supported legislation with bi-partisan support, including from the governor, to address lessons learned from the Lakewood police shooting.

First, Clemmons was allowed bail after being charged with what would have been his third strike felony. He knew if convicted he would spend the rest of his life in jail. He had nothing to lose, so he went on a violent spree. The judge in Clemmons’ most recent case had no discretion to hold Clemmons on bail. He was mandated by the state constitution to allow him bail. Many other states and even the federal government impose more bail restrictions than our state. I’ve introduced a constitutional amendment that would prevent bail if there is no way to reasonably assure the public’s safety unless the person is detained before trial.

Second, Clemmons had help. What his family did by helping him hide from law enforcement was so wrong, and only put the public and law enforcement in further danger. I’m introducing increased penalties for those who aid and abet people sought in a first-degree murder.

These bills are a thoughtful way of addressing violence that could have been prevented. We’ve already held public hearings on these bills, and I hope to see them pass the House and Senate with the support they need. Because one of the bills amends the Constitution, we’ll need to send it to you, the voters, for approval. If you have any questions about this legislation, please don’t hesitate to contact my office.

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Rep. Mike Hope is a Republican from Lake Stevens, representing the 44th Legislative District. He has served as a Seattle police officer for more than 11 years.

 

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