SPOKANE, Wash. - Ahead of the State of the City address on Friday, Spokane Mayor David Condon asked lawmakers in Olympia for community supervision for habitual car thieves, and he used a personal story to highlight the problem of crime in Spokane.
In March of 2018, the Mayor said via a video feed, a neighbor called while the Mayor and his family were out of town. There was a man in their home, and he wasn't supposed to be there. Police arrived and made an arrest, and Mayor Condon says he later discovered the man in his home, was "a multi-time offender." That means someone who has been arrested many different times, and keeps breaking the law.
The Mayor, City Council member Breann Beggs, State Senator Andy Billig, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl and others all appeared before the State of Washington's Senate Law & Justice Committee to advocate for Senate Bill 5492.
Community supervision can require that offenders submit to periodic drug screenings, drug rehabilitation programs and have no contact with other convicted felons.
“Washington State is the only state in the country that does not have property crimes supervision,” said Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl.
Offenders who violate the conditions of their community supervision can be taken back into custody, but in 2008, state budget cuts eliminated probation for convicted thieves and helped to drive crimes like auto theft out of control.
“The number of repeat offenders that we are experiencing, who are committing property crimes, are absolutely crushing this community with the crimes they are committing,” Meidl says. The chief pointed to a prolific car thief that KHQ covered as proof. Christian Normand admitted he stole dozens of Subarus. The Chief says when he's in jail, Subaru thefts go down by 50 percent.(https://www.khq.com/news/one-kid-crime-wave-teen-accused-of-stealing-dozens-of/article_d787451b-3d84-5714-beee-5b0d93b8916a.html)
That's why the Mayor and City Council are asking the state legislature to fund a pilot program.
“When someone comes out in the morning and their vehicle is gone, they can't go to work. They can't take their kids to school. When we get behind a stolen vehicle, these people have no incentive to stop,” Meidl said of the thieves who lead police on dangerous pursuits.
So now, police are hoping they can at least slow down the number of cars getting swiped by tracking convicted, habitual car thieves as soon as they’re out of custody.
“What property crimes supervision does is provide a level of accountability; to get out of the drug world, to stay away from friends who are a bad influence. As well as an incentive for them to get their life back on track,” said Meidl.
The bill is scheduled to go before the executive committee on Valentine's Day.