Senate sends Hayes’ misdemeanor arrest bill to the governor
The Senate gave near unanimous approval Tuesday on a bill by 10th District State Rep. Dave Hayes that would make a one-word change in state law to allow non-witnessing law enforcement officers to make arrests in misdemeanor and gross misdemeanor cases. The vote was 48-1.
House Bill 2057 results from a case in Seattle in which one officer at a crime scene looked down from a multi-story building and witnessed a gross misdemeanor drug deal on the street. The witnessing officer radioed another officer on the street to apprehend the suspect and make the arrest. Because the other officer did not actually witness the crime, the case was thrown out of court.
“For years, law enforcement officers have worked in teams to make arrests when an offender is breaking the law. However, this court case brought to light a weakness in the law that could allow misdemeanor-related cases to be dismissed without justice being served,” said Hayes, who serves as a sergeant with the Snohomish County Sheriff's Office.
“State law says it must actually be 'the' officer who witnessed a misdemeanor who must make the arrest. The bill I am proposing would change one word, so that a suspect can be arrested without a warrant when the misdemeanor is witnessed by 'an' officer, not just 'the' arresting officer,” added Hayes, R-Camano Island.
Hayes said the court ruling would have complicated the work of law enforcement officers and could have allowed offenders to escape justice.
“It's amazing that just one word could make all the difference in state law when it comes to protecting the public,” said Hayes.“I'm grateful to the House and Senate we can continue to support our law enforcement officers out in the field by passing this legislation so that offenders may be held accountable and we can keep our streets safer.”
The measure now heads to the governor for consideration. If he signs the bill, the measure will become effective 90 days following the end of the legislative session, which is scheduled for March 13.
###Washington State House Republican Communications