Fewer drivers are refusing to pull over for troopers and officers from other law enforcement agencies, according to the Washington State Patrol.
State troopers have recorded over 900 failure-to-yield incidents from Jan. 1 to May 17, the Northwest News Network reports. Although the agency hasn't previously tracked such incidents, veteran troopers believe the numbers indicate an increase in drivers fleeing law enforcement.
“Something's changed. People are not stopping right now,” said WSP spokesman Sgt. Darren Wright. “It's happening three to five times a shift on some nights and then a couple times a week on day shift.”
Police departments also are seeing a spike in drivers who won't stop for officers. For instance, the Puyallup Police Department has seen 148 incidents of fleeing drivers from July 26, 2021, to May 18, an increase that Chief Scott Engle calls "completely absolutely emphatically totally unusual.”
According to Steve Strachan, executive director of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, the rise in failure-to-yield incidents could be connected to last year's police tactics law that prohibited high-speed chases in most cases. Although parameters around police pursuits are not out of line, those outlined in the law have possibly made some motorists brazen when it comes to fleeing law enforcement, Strachan says.
“We have seen a significant change in the environment out there where the word is out ... about this restriction,” he said.