State Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, released a statement on Thursday calling for a focus on public safety during next year’s legislative session. The statement follows the release of a report by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs on crime in 2021. The report showed violent crime reaching a 25-year high and the number of homicides reaching an all-time high.
Braun, who serves as the Republican leader in the state Senate, criticized Gov. Jay Inslee for waiting until this week to begin to address the issue. The governor on Thursday announced a proposal to open regional police training campuses to improve recruitment of officers.
“Until these new statistics came out yesterday Governor Inslee had been very quiet about the crime wave hurting families and employers across our state,” Braun said. “Today we’re told he will finally engage on the need to recruit and train more officers. Yet the governor was nowhere to be seen months ago when we already knew Washington had the fewest law-enforcement officers per capita in the nation, and his allies in the Legislature were blocking our bill to help communities rebuild their depleted law-enforcement agencies.”
Braun claimed the sincerity of Inslee’s recent call for action will be determined based on his actions rather than his words.
Braun also argued data showing a decline in drug offenses shouldn’t be taken at face value, pointing to a 2021 law passed in response to the Washington state Supreme Court’s February 2021 ruling in State v. Blake that, in Braun’s view, “essentially legalizes hard drugs.”
“The consequences of abusing hard drugs are still easy to see in many communities. It’s just that the radical change in the law, which the governor supported, has made it impossible for law-enforcement officers to do what they used to do — to engage and intervene with drug abusers in a way that could force them into treatment,” Braun said.
Braun also called for the repeal of what he called “anti-police” laws adopted in 2021.
“Legislators need to be serious about putting the protection of our communities and the needs of victims first,” Braun said.