CONCRETE — Skagit County Sheriff’s Office deputy Paul Wolfe on Monday reviewed for the Concrete Town Council and town staff during a special meeting several components of new law enforcement regulations in the state.

He said that should a suspect have been seen leaving the scene of the Sept. 11 burglary at Town Hall the regulations would have prevented law enforcement from pursuing because no one had been injured.

“In the past, prior to these laws, this would have been something we could have pursued,” Wolfe said. “But under this standard, we will not be pursuing that vehicle because it does not meet that threshold of a violent offense.”

The regulations prohibit high-speed chases unless the suspect is believed to have committed a violent crime, to have escaped custody, or to be driving under the influence.

Concrete Mayor Jason Miller was unhappy to hear that.

“So you’re free to investigate after the fact, but you’re prevented from doing in real-time the one thing that could resolve the issue,” he said.

Another area of concern for local law enforcement is new limitations on what Wolfe called community concern or welfare calls because of new restrictions on the use of force.

He said that will limit deputies’ ability to respond to calls about homeless, intoxicated and suicidal people unless they agree to accept voluntary housing or mental health services.

“Suicide is not a crime, not being able to care for themselves is not a crime, being high is not a crime,” Wolfe said. “I will not be able to put my hands on them or transport them. ... I would have to walk away.”

The new state laws limit the use of force to four categories: protecting against criminal conduct, protecting against an imminent threat, affecting an arrest or preventing an escape.

Changes less impactful in Skagit County also prohibit no-knock search warrants previously used for the element of surprise in seeking evidence in a case; prohibit using a chokehold unless there is an imminent threat; prohibit the use of military equipment; and limit the use of tear gas.

Wolfe called these “seldomly used tactics” in Skagit County.

“I have never been part of a no-knock search warrant,” he said. And for chokeholds, he said: “I have never used that tactic.”

About a dozen police reform bills were passed by the state Legislature this year. Some changes took effect in July.

The changes are meant to help communities, particularly members of marginalized groups, feel safer around law enforcement.

Wolfe, a deputy of the Skagit County Sheriff’s Office East County Detachment that adjoins Concrete Town Hall, is developing a handout to help communicate the changes to the community.

— Reporter Kimberly Cauvel: 360-416-2199, kcauvel@skagitpublishing.com, Twitter: @Kimberly_SVH, Facebook.com/bykimberlycauvel

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