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Hope proposes law changes to prevent future police murders

Published:2009-12-03 Local
Hope proposes law changes to prevent future police murders    Print Snohomish Times    
Hope proposes law changes to prevent future police murders

In the wake of the Lakewood police officer tragedy, Rep. Mike Hope, R-Lake Stevens, is drafting legislation to prevent serial offenders like Maurice Clemmons from having an opportunity to harm others. Hope, a Seattle police officer who works patrol when not in session, said this was at the top of his legislative agenda.

The three-part legislation will include two proposed changes to the Washington State Constitution and a sentencing enhancement, proposals he says would have prevented the murders of four Lakewood police officers Nov. 29.

The first bill would remove bail opportunities for dangerous individuals who have committed two felonies and are charged with a possible "third strike" felony offense.

"The suspect in the Lakewood murders had nothing to lose -- he knew, if convicted, that he would spend the rest of his life in prison. Letting him out on bail was a huge mistake, and something that we can't afford to let happen again," Hope said.

Hope will co-sponsor a second bill addressing those who commit a violent crime and are given clemency and pardon by any governor. The individuals would not receive bail if they commit another violent crime in Washington and are proven dangerous to the public.

The third bill, prime-sponsored by Hope, would require a sentencing enhancement against those who aid and abet criminals who are not bailable.

"The people who helped this individual escape and hide should be ashamed. What they did put many others, including another police officer, directly in harm's way," Hope said. "They will now have to answer for their crimes, and this bill would hold those who aid criminals in the future more accountable for their actions."

The legislation will be named "The Lakewood Police Officers Memorial Act," at the request of the Lakewood Police Officers Guild, to honor the slain officers and their families left behind.

"Nothing can bring Mark, Ronnie, Tina or Greg back to us, but we can do something positive out of this horrific tragedy," said Brian Wurts, president of the Lakewood Police Officers Guild.

"These men and woman were not just officers of the law who protected our communities, they were fathers, a wife, a mother, husbands, sons and a daughter," Hope said. "This legislation is about protecting our families -- not just our law enforcement family, which is a tight knit group I am proud to a part of, but also our own families."

Hope has sought and received support for this legislation from several groups, including:

  • Lakewood Police Officers Guild

  • Seattle Police Officers Guild

  • Washington Council on Police and Sheriffs (WACOPS)

  • Council of Metropolitan Police and Sheriffs (COMPAS)

  • Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC)

  • Washington State Patrol Troopers Association 

"My fellow police officers are behind this legislation 100 percent," Hope said. "To change the constitution, we will need an enormous amount of support in the Legislature and from the public."

A change to the state constitution requires a two-thirds approval in both the House and the Senate and simple majority approval from voters.

"In the past few weeks, the public has had a glimpse into what law enforcement must deal with every single day," Hope said. "Even 'routine' stops for us can turn deadly. The state must do everything it can to keep determined killers like Maurice Clemmons off the streets and away from our families."

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