Shea-Crouse bill would restrict use of unmarked police cars on private property
Police officers could no longer park unmarked patrol cars on private property for the purpose of doing administrative business under a bill introduced May 5 by Rep. Matt Shea and co-sponsored by Rep. Larry Crouse.
House Bill 2113 is intended to be a preventative safety measure in response to the August 2010 shooting death of 74-year-old Wayne Scott Creach by a Spokane County Sheriff’s deputy. The Greenacres Baptist Church pastor and owner of a plant nursery and greenhouse had gone outside at night with a handgun to investigate a suspicious car parked on his property. The car turned out to be an unmarked police cruiser manned by a sheriff’s deputy who was filling out routine paperwork.
“It’s reasonable to expect any time there is an unknown car parked on private property, the property owner is likely to go out and investigate. That’s what this pastor did. He should not have been killed while protecting his own property. The fact the police car was not marked made it more difficult to identify as belonging to law enforcement, especially at night,” said Shea, R-Spokane Valley. “In the interest of safety and private property rights, I think unmarked police cars should not be parked on private property while the officer is doing administrative functions or routine reports.”
“The tragic shooting of Pastor Creach was avoidable. It’s made a lot of people take a second look at practices and procedures that have been commonplace in the past,” said Crouse, also R-Spokane Valley. “Law enforcement has a critical job to do. We just want to make sure something like this doesn’t happen again. Putting these new guidelines in place for will help us avoid similar tragedies in the future.”
Under the bill, an unmarked law enforcement vehicle “shall not remain on private property while the officer is filling out reports or executing other administrative activities.”
“This is just to clarify the law, which has been very vague, and to make sure such a tragedy isn’t repeated,” added Shea.
The measure has been referred to the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee for further consideration.
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###Washington State House Republican Communications