QUINCY - The Grant County Sheriff’s Office is speaking out after Washington’s new police reform law prevented pursuit of thieves who made off with multiple vehicles in the Quincy area on Saturday.
Quincy farmer and owner of Emerald Desert Nursery, Robin Prchal, says she and another family member(s) tried to take matters into their own hands in taking down the bandits due to the state’s new police reform law.
Prchal says the culprits managed to steal two pick-up trucks that belonged to her, and stole a neighbor’s ATV early Saturday.
Prchal says deputies were contacted and initially pursued, but were forced to stop due to lack of probable cause.
“The thieves even did as much as drive by the sheriff and flip them off. Still there was not a thing the sheriff could do,” Prchal said.
Prchal says she managed to also capture the thieves on her security camera, but it’s unclear whether footage caught them in the act or was able to provide a clear visual, which would help law enforcement confirm their identities.
“So, we continued the pursuit without law enforcement and literally had the thieves in our crosshairs but I am sad to report they still got away. However, we did get our very damaged pick-ups back as well as the neighbors side-by-side and some miscellaneous tools," Prchal added.
The Grant County Sheriff’s Office aired Robin’s concerns by sharing her post detailing her concerns.
“We feel very bad that we could not do more, but under House Bill 1054, this is an example of what we cannot do in order to stop crime. Are you concerned? Contact your state legislators,” the Grant County Sheriff’s Office wrote in the caption above Robin’s post on its Facebook page.
The Sheriff’s Office further explained why the pursuit of the bandits was cut short.
“Both the United States and Washington constitutions require arrests to be supported by probable cause. For probable cause to exist for an arrest, an officer must have “knowledge of facts sufficient to cause a reasonable person to believe that an offense has been committed,” the Sheriff’s Office wrote.
“Further, probable cause must be individualized to the person being arrested. Courts have ruled ‘The determination [of probable cause to arrest] will rest on the totality of facts and circumstances within the officer’s knowledge **at the time of the arrest**.’’”
“So, although the deputies may have had reasonable suspicion (a lower standard), someone reporting their truck stolen would not meet the higher standard for probable cause. To reach the probable cause standard, the crime would have to be investigated further in order to learn additional facts and circumstances.”