Thursday, January 15, 2009

Puyallup Police + Rep. Morrell = New State Laws

What do the City of Puyallup Police Department and Rep. Dawn Morrell have in common? Two recent state laws, working on three.

For the third year in a row, the Puyallup Police Department is asking Morrell to pass a law to help them protect the public. In 2007, they asked for a new law to make it harder for metal thieves to fence their stolen goods. Morrell got it passed.

In 2008, they asked for an expanded metal theft law to target the theft of catalytic converters. Morrell got it passed into law. This year, the department is asking Morrell to strengthen state laws against child abandonment.

The Puyallup Police Department request responds to a growing number of cases where young children are abandoned for hours and put at risk of harm. In one case, a 22-month-old boy nearly died in a Puyallup apartment fire after his mother had abandoned him and left a cigarette burning in order to drive to an Arby's for a meal.

The problem is that current law makes it hard to prosecute child abandonment cases where criminal negligence creates a risk of bodily injury, but no serious injury actually occurs.

Today, Morrell proposed the solution requested by the police department: a new law of child abandonment in the fourth degree that would make it a misdemeanor to abandon a child with criminal negligence that puts the child at risk of bodily harm.

According to Morrell, "it isn't enough to have child abandonment laws that respond after the fact to the tragedy of a child's death or serious injury. We need a law that can help prevent tragedies before more children suffer."

Will Morrell succeed in helping the Puyallup Police Department get a new law enacted for the third straight year? Stay tuned. Morrell's House Bill 1234 has been referred to the House Committee Public Safety & Emergency Preparedness for consideration.