May 14-20 is Police Week, when we honor “police officers, past and present, who by their faithful and loyal devotion have collectively preserved our rights and our security.” My dad was a police officer, and I have the highest respect for all men and women in blue, especially those here in Sumner. There’s been a lot in the news lately about rising crime and choices made at the State level about police pursuits and drug possession laws. I wanted to give you an update from the City’s perspective.
Sumner feels very safe because of how we respond to crime when it happens, not because there is no crime here. (There is.) No call is too small in Sumner. If you see something that doesn’t feel right, even if you’re not sure, give police a call. The numbers are below. With the recent media coverage of State laws, we’re actually a bit nervous that people will stop calling, assuming police can do “nothing.” That’s not the case. These bills often change how we do things, but they do not mean police can’t do anything. Usually, Sumner is ahead of State laws, so when reforms are passed at the State level, we’re often already doing the same thing here. For example, we had already limited pursuits, knowing they can be dangerous. The State’s version went a little farther and unfortunately conveyed to criminals this sense of being able to do anything with no consequences. This session, the State fixed that law a bit, but there’s still more we’d like them to do to clarify pursuits.
And then there’s the State’s failure to pass a new law to criminalize drug possession. You can Google the Court’s Blake decision and how we got here, but basically, the State’s drug possession law – that made it a crime to possess
—any kind of drug—expires June 30 of this year. In this legislative session, a number of drug possession bills were considered but none passed. Some were better than others. Frankly, the last one being considered had our city concerned because deep in the language, it would have designated any drug rehab center or clinic as an essential service, which means the State could put such a facility anywhere, and a city like ours would face serious difficulties limiting its location. Again, that bill did not pass, and it looks like the State might hold a special session to reconsider this issue. If the State does not do anything by June 30, rest assured that Sumner has its own drug possession laws already in place. They were superseded by the current State law, but if that expires with no subsequent State-level law, then our codes come into effect and drug possession and use will remain become illegal in Sumner on July 1.
Public Safety is and always will be a partnership, between you and police, between the City, County, and State, between each one of us and how we follow the laws. We value these partnerships because no one can do it alone. Please join me in thanking and honoring our police officers for their service here in Sumner. We’ll be turning the Cannery Way Bridge to blue lights on May 15th in honor, and I encourage you to put a blue light on your porch this May as a signal of our support for police officers.
Mayor Kathy Hayden