Seattle police Chief Gil Kerlikowske has urged toughening state penalties for car theft, after convicts recently released from prison have been found responsible for the deaths of two police officers, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “Both parties responsible have just been failures of the system,” Kerlokowski said. One officer was killed when a who had been released from prison 10 days earlier and apparently was high on cocaine plowed her sport utility vehicle into his patrol car.
The other officer died early Monday when an ex-con, 35, crashed a stolen car into the officer’s private vehicle. She was on her way to work. The former inmate also died. He had been released from prison in January but was supposed to be under the supervision of a community corrections officer. State sentencing guidelines require an adult be convicted of taking a motor vehicle without permission seven times before getting any time in the state prison system. “Car theft has always been the lowest priority within the Legislature,” said a prosecutor’s spokesman. “But it’s a high priority with citizens who are victimized so often.” Prosecutors have tried to combat auto theft by setting up a unit focused on nothing but auto-theft cases. They visited police departments in the county to instruct officers on how best to write reports. After a year, the program is showing some success.