Tawsha's Plan on Crime Policy
As I have visited with people in their neighborhoods one of the most common fears they tell me about is how rising crime threatens our families, our homes, and our businesses.
Crime isn’t just a Seattle thing anymore. With the recent changes to the law, crime is out of control throughout the state including right here in Whatcom County.
Even more frightening is that Olympia is poised to make things even worse.
Unless we vote for change, next year roughly 20% of violent and sex offenders will be released from prison.
Unless we vote for change, the penalty for drive-by shootings will be reduced because the far-left claims our current laws are “racist.”
These are new laws that are either already passed, or that they plan to pass after the election.
In the past year, we were the victims of more violent crimes than at any point since the mid-1990s.
Murder was at an all-time high in 2020, up 80% from five years ago.
Rape has increased 40% from five years ago, the most on record since 1995.
Aggravated assault is up 50% from five years ago.
In addition to violent crime, Washington also ranks 2nd worst in the country for property crimes over the last five years.
If we do not change our leadership in Olympia, it will get worse.
Even if you voted for my opponent two years ago, I want you to ask yourself now:
“Do you and your family feel safer now than you did 2 years ago?”
Preventable & predictable.
The reason people are angry is this surge in crime was predicted and was absolutely preventable.
Anti-police rhetoric has impacted our legislative leaders at all levels, and the result has been a drastic reduction in police officers and supporting them in keeping people safe. Did you know the number of law enforcement officers per capita in Washington ranks dead last in the country?
Again, the epidemic of crime is completely preventable.
As a 25-year veteran of law enforcement, I have been saddened to see that Washington ranks #5 in the nation for officers shot in the line of duty. But statistics are impersonal and don’t tell the story. My husband is one of those numbers. He is a law enforcement officer and was shot in the line of duty the day I announced my campaign in February of this year. Crime stats are not just numbers. My husband is not just a number. For 25 years I listened to the people that are just numbers to everyone else. I felt their pain. I walked beside them in their healing. I fought to bring them justice.
Because of decisions made by the majority party, crimes against you, crimes against our families, are escalating at an alarming pace. If you have not yet been a number, you will be. Maybe your number is only a broken window on your car but maybe it will be much more violent than that.
Refuse to be just a number. We cannot leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution.
Vote in new leaders, and we’ll change the laws, and that will change the numbers.
I have been asked if my husband’s shooting would stop me from running for office. In fact, it has had the opposite effect because of people like you, reading this now.
Public Safety is a cornerstone of the foundation government is to provide their citizens with. I dedicated over 25 years of my life to protect our communities. It is essential for communities to thrive. We are not thriving.
As an officer, detective, and sergeant I recognize that when police partner with stakeholders in our community, the entire community will be safer. I will commit to working with anyone whose goal is to promote public safety, fight for a decrease in crime, and foster thriving communities.
Even if you voted for my opponent two years ago, I want you to ask yourself now: “Do you and your family feel safer now than you did 2 years ago?”
Vote in new leaders, and we'll change the laws, and that will change the numbers.
Does this mean I will not engage in conversations regarding police reform? Absolutely not. As a police officer I intimately understand that police cannot be successful in their communities without trust. But trust is not built by desecrating the very people who have committed themselves to keeping our communities safe.
New laws passed in Olympia by our own legislators created this mess.
Several new laws passed by our legislators are responsible for this increase in crime. Let’s take a look at some of those.
HB 1310 was one of the worst, literally prohibiting police from using force in situations where they need to.
HB 1054 requires “probable cause” before detaining a suspect, rather than “reasonable suspicion.” This new law does not allow police to pursue stolen vehicles. The result? Thieves know this and they simply drive away from police and get away.
SB5476: Drug overdose deaths are higher here than any state other than California. Why? Because Olympia liberals voted to make drugs legal for all practical purposes. This has caused a spike in OD deaths. I agree with sections of this bill that increased funding for treatment options, but they put the cart before the horse. Removing the safety net of incarceration before having any treatment options available has led to a rise in death among those dealing with addiction.
Legislation expected to be passed in the 2023 session or implemented next year if we stay on this course.
SB 5121 literally lets violent criminals out of jail. This new law will reduce the number of prison inmates by roughly 3,000 per year, or roughly 20% of the prison’s population. The legislation states that those released will be placed into community custody through Department of Corrections even though DOC is underfunded and understaffed already.
SB5485 Prohibiting traffic stops for certain traffic violations: The first four violations listed are all key indicators of an impaired driver. For years law enforcement has worked, successfully, to reduce DUI related fatalities. This law takes us backwards.
HB1202 Removal of Qualified Immunity for Law Enforcement: There is a misnomer that officers cannot be sued because of qualified immunity. They can be sued, but there is an extra step in the civil process because of the complexity of their jobs as law enforcement officers. HB 1202 will result in a plethora of frivolous lawsuits which will result in cities and counties having to pay out millions of dollars.
HB1692 Removing drive-by-shooting as an aggravator for first degree murder. Reducing penalties for drive-by shootings will not make us safer.
Defunding and disarming police has had such a devastating impact on the number of police, Washington now ranks last in the country in officers per capita.
This is just a summary of a long list of very bad new laws that have passed and which will be passed if there is not a change in leadership in Olympia. The current majority party has shown their intent to continue to gut law enforcement.
I will work tirelessly to keep us safe. I understand the system inside and out. I will partner and work with anyone, no matter the party affiliation, who shares my goal of prioritizing safety.
My three-point plan to return to a safer Whatcom County is just a start.
Repeal the worst legislation to stop the bleeding. Obviously, HB 1054, HB 1310, and SB 5051 were disasters that need to be repealed. Whatever the intent was of these laws, they need to start over. We can improve accountability for law enforcement without letting criminals literally get away with murder.
A quote from our own Washington State Attorney General’s office captures exactly why this legislation needs repealing “First, these bills address profoundly important topics regarding policing, and issues that can literally constitute matters of life and death. Consequently, legislative clarity in this area is especially important. Indeed, the Washington State Supreme Court emphasizes that uncertainty in the law around policing harms “both effective police enforcement and also the protection of individual rights.”
Support first responders to attract more into the workforce. We have fewer police per capita than any state in the country, and this must change. Seattle is one of the more dramatic examples of a police force that has been cut in half by the anti-police policies. But agencies all over the state are understaffed, including Bellingham Police and Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office. This means crimes are going uninvestigated, 911 calls go unanswered, and criminals aren’t even booked into jail in many cases.
I would start by reversing the “defund-police” policies.
Support funding to improve access to better mental health and addictions services for people in the community. I know first-hand that a large majority of crimes are committed by those suffering from addiction, mental health, or most often a combination of both.
I would also reform the Criminal Justice Training Commission, which is an unelected, unaccountable group of political appointees who have been given broad discretionary power to fire police in any agency in the state. The new law that gave them this power was made worse by the fact that the board has been stacked with anti-police activists. It is hard to attract new talent and hire new police with the CJTC threat looming over law enforcement.
3: Empower. Support our law enforcement officers.
Funding for better training. Each day officers are faced with unique challenges and circumstances. Training should be pertinent to what they are facing and provide them many options to solve the problems.
Funding for essential tools needed to keep officers, and community members safe.
Build and encourage partnerships: Law enforcement cannot keep our communities safe by themselves. We are all more effective when we work together. Support Community Oriented Policing efforts.
Have clear and precise laws that are easy to understand, enforce, and comply with.
Require elected officials to go on ride-alongs within their communities.
“We cannot leave those who created the problem in charge of the solution.”