Klippert seeks to add more judges to Benton County bench

Second Klippert bill would allow police use of driver's license photos for ID

In his first bills introduced to the Legislature as the newest 8th District state lawmaker,  Rep. Brad Klippert  is seeking to add two district court judges for Benton County, and allow law enforcement officers to gain access to drivers' license photographs for identity verification.

Klippert, R-Kennewick, says House Bill 1204 would help reduce the backload of court cases by increasing judicial capacity in the Benton County District Court.

“Under Washington law, a person has a right to a speedy trial and timely consideration of a case. Unfortunately, the backlog of court cases continues to grow in Benton County beyond the ability for the three existing judges and two court commissioners to keep up in a timely manner. In my view, justice delayed is justice denied. We do not want to deny justice to any of our citizens,” noted Klippert. “Our court commissioners are legally limited in their abilities to handle cases. This legislation would allow the Benton County District Court to add two judges, and we would move those court commissioners into those positions to relieve the caseload and provide timely justice.”

Klippert says the legislation has the support of Benton County commissioners who are willing to fund the new positions.

“No new taxes would be required from the state budget, so this would be a win-win for everyone involved, especially the citizens of Benton County,” added Klippert.

Klippert has also introduced House Bill 1224, a measure that would provide another tool for law enforcement officers to properly confirm the identity of individuals.

“The technology for law enforcement officers to access digital photos of individuals when they make traffic stops or are involved in other investigative duties exists, but the law does not allow for it. So rather than being able to pull up drivers' license photos on their patrol car computers, they must confirm identities in other ways, such as if the person in question has scars, marks or tattoos,” said Klippert, who is also a Benton County deputy sheriff. “Under the bill I'm proposing, it would be legal for officers to look up photos of individuals during traffic stops or investigations to verify their identification.”

Klippert said the legislation could also aid law enforcement officers in capturing criminals more quickly.

“We all remember when that officer in Oklahoma stopped and arrested Timothy McVeigh for driving without a license plate shortly after the Murrah Federal Building was bombed in Oklahoma City. It was a stroke of luck that they had captured the bomber, even though the state trooper didn't know it at the time,” said Klippert. “My legislation would give law enforcement officers the ability to make immediate verification of the identification of a wanted criminal, so that an arrest can take place. This reduces the chance of a criminal getting away, and increases the ability for us to further protect the public.”

A public hearing on HB 1204 will be held at 1:30 p.m., Monday, Jan. 19 in the House Judiciary Committee. House Bill 1224 has been sent to the House Transportation Committee for further consideration.

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Washington State House Republican Communications
houserepublicans.wa.gov