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Public-safety measures become law

Gov. Chris Gregoire traveled to Lakewood Wednesday to sign a series of public-safety bills the Legislature approved this year, including several emerging from the November slayings of four Lakewood police officers.

It took tragedies of the magnitude of the massacre by Maurice Clemmons to bring attention to complaints that crime victims, officers and families had made for years, she said

The most consequential legislation coming out of the Clemmons case this year requires final sign-off by the voters, not the governor.

They will decide at the polls whether to change the state constitution to let a judge deny bail to more accused criminals – those who face the possibility of life in prison and pose an apparent danger to the public. Clemmons was out on bail on a charge of child rape when he shot and killed Sgt. Mark Renninger and officers Tina Griswold, Greg Richards and Ronald Owens in a Parkland coffee shop.

But the law that drew the most supporters at the Lakewood Police Station on Wednesday, where Gregoire signed the bills, contains new benefits for the families of police and firefighters who die in the line of duty.

They’ll receive a free education at any state college. Death benefits will increase with inflation. And a requirement for 10 years of service before a family is guaranteed lifetime benefits will be dropped.

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