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Families of Slain WA Officers Plead for Changes

Families of Slain WA Officers Plead for Changes

From left: Sgt. Mark Renninger, Officer Ronald Owens, Officer Tina Griswold, Officer Greg Richards

The AP via YellowBrix

January 19, 2010

OLYMPIA, Wash. — In emotional testimony Monday night, family members of four slain Lakewood police officers asked lawmakers to make changes to a system they say failed their loved ones.

Lakewood police Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Greg Richards were shot to death in November at a coffee shop before the start of their Sunday morning shift. The man accused of killing them, Maurice Clemmons, was fatally shot by a Seattle police officer two days later.

“Our families should not be going through this tragedy,” said Owens’ sister, Rhonda LeFrancois, who was wearing a yellow shirt that read “Make a Difference!” – a note from her brother that she said she found after his death.

“I beg of you, make a difference, just as our loved ones made a difference each and every day they were here protecting us,” LeFrancois told the House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee at a special hearing that was scheduled in the weeks after the shootings.

LeFrancois and other family members asked committee members to adopt changes recently suggested by law enforcement groups, including constitutional amendments that would give judges more leeway to deny bail. The panel will hold a public hearing on some of those measures Tuesday morning.

The lawmaker holding the hearing, Democratic Rep. Chris Hurst of Enumclaw, says he wants to know why Clemmons was free despite a criminal history in both Washington and Arkansas.

“All killings of law enforcement officers are horrific and terrible to us,” said Hurst, a retired police officer. “The reason we’re focusing on the Clemmons case is because I’m starting from one single premise, that Maurice Clemmons should not have been out of custody and had an opportunity to do this.”

Hurst said he wanted to give lawmakers a chance to hear from prosecutors, law enforcement representatives and others so they’d have a better understanding of the case while considering legislation.

“This is not a time for us to have a knee-jerk response and simply pass a lot of bills if they won’t actually help,” Hurst said at the beginning of the three-hour hearing. “The intent is to move pieces of legislation that will actually make a difference.”

After the shootings, Gregoire called on law-enforcement groups to compile a list of potential changes to state law, policy or the state constitution. Last week, Gregoire and the officer groups released a list of potential changes, including better communication between law enforcement on jail bookings and releases, a review of the bail bonds system, and enhanced benefits for survivors of officers who die in the line of duty.

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  • Mt_max50

    MountainSmoky

    over 4 years ago

    110 Comments

    I agree something has to change with the CJ system. But the problem we had currently is that there's no money to wharehouse these criminals. Politicans are moving money from State Prisons and putting it into Education. CA is about to release 40,000+ criminals from State Prisons to ease the over crowding. Most voters don't want their taxes raised so no new prisons will be built. It's a Catch 22.

  • Car6_max50

    Ahi

    over 4 years ago

    1990 Comments

    Sometimes I feel that criminals have more rights then me. Jail needs to be a punishment not a place to hang out and be feed/housed for free. It should not be easy for anyone with any violent crimes to get out of jail, there just needs to be more pushing for harsh punishment and less for "treat them like innocent children"!

  • Badge__hat_max50

    Baxter2

    over 4 years ago

    1846 Comments

    Truth in sentencing is one solution in my opinion. Serve your time.....every day of it. Bonds should be set very high for violent crimes. If someone commits another crime while already out on bond awaiting trial, then there should be NO BOND at all, under any circumstances. Persons who plead guilty or who are convicted of violent crimes should immediately be incarcerated and not allowed out on bond awaiting bed space to open up at a jail.

  • Radio2_max50

    FireDad

    over 4 years ago

    7352 Comments

    There has to be changes... I don't think criminals should have all these rights. The only right they have is to go to trial.. The families and victims are the one that should have rights..

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Humby86

    over 4 years ago

    4 Comments

    Asking for so little when they put so much on the line.

  • Anonymous-killer-whale-232189_1__max50

    Whalewatcher

    over 4 years ago

    11194 Comments

    Repeat, violent offenders have no place being free in the first place. I am still bitter towards former Gov. Huckabee for allowing Clemmons out early. There was no reason for it AT ALL !!!!!!

  • P1010076_max50

    Alexander_Ott

    over 4 years ago

    572 Comments

    36TR, send 'em to the mines, or even have them work for the sweat shops for Nike.

    I'll support this. Lets hope we stop wasting money on killers who sit on their ass all day.

  • Ba_old_glory_max50

    Jonas

    over 4 years ago

    42238 Comments

    You have my prayers and support.

  • N4139562294_683_max50

    rhile772

    over 4 years ago

    210 Comments

    This is a starting point for the justice system in this country. People need to stop looking at making the defendant rights are protected and start making sure the victim's and innocent persons rights are protected

  • Eagle_and_flag_max50

    36TR

    over 4 years ago

    7620 Comments

    This is something that should've been done years ago! I think the justice system has gotten a little lax, probably because of "overcrowding" in the prisons (or at least that's the excuse they'll use).

  • Evil_max50

    Scurge

    over 4 years ago

    1232 Comments

    Its news to me, but I recently learned that Gov Gregoire is pro LE

  • 6a048005e48370f2_max50

    Hutch051

    over 4 years ago

    118 Comments

    Rest in peace brothers and sister.

  • Photo_user_blank_big

    Anonymous

    over 4 years ago

    Push it, push it to the end!! Something has got to change.

  • Wtc_badge_max600_max160_max50

    servingproud

    over 4 years ago

    4654 Comments

    The system needs to be changed everywhere. This is a starting point. Lets see how they do.

  • Mvc-026f1_max50

    15TOM21

    over 4 years ago

    216 Comments

    Im behind them!

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