Governor calls for summit on Lakewood shootings

Gov. Chris Gregoire will convene a summit of law enforcement groups later this month to hear about "lessons learned" from the assassination of four Lakewood Police officers.

In letters to five groups – representing police administration and rank-and-file, prosecutors and judges – Gregoire asked the organizations to gather Dec. 30 and compile a list of needed changes to state law, policy or the Constitution

“We all know there will always be bad people who do bad things, but we can also always do better,” Gregoire wrote in the Dec. 11 letters. The summit adds to momentum in the state Legislature toward a public review of how the criminal-justice system handled the shooter, Maurice Clemmons, 37.

The Arkansas native, a repeat felon, was on supervision by the Department of Corrections and was out on bail for pending assault and child-rape charges at the time of the shooting.

Rep. Mike Hope, a Seattle Police officer, has spotlighted Clemmons’ ability to bail out of the Pierce County Jail on Nov. 23 – six days before the shootings – despite facing a potential life sentence under the “third strike” law.

Hope, R-Lake Stevens, has proposed a constitutional amendment to deny bail for offenders facing a “third strike” charge.

“It defies common sense,” Hope said. “I just don’t understand why he was let out (on bail) with the crimes he was alleged to have committed.”

Law-enforcement groups also will be pushing for an increase in the death benefit for law-enforcement spouses, from $150,000 to $214,000.

State Rep. Christopher Hurst, D-Enumclaw, a retired police officer, announced earlier this month that he’ll hold hearings on the shootings early in the Legislative session in the state House committee he chairs.

Hurst’s hearings could be the equivalent to an external review of how state and local agencies handled Clemmons. Gregoire has declined to ask for an external investigation, allowing state agencies to assess their own performance.

Clemmons was supervised by the state DOC under an agreement with Arkansas, where he’d been convicted, granted clemency, convicted again and released to Washington in 2004.

After the shooting, Washington accused Arkansas of refusing to retake Clemmons despite a series of parole violations. After several rounds of finger-pointing, Gregoire said Washington would no longer accept felons from Arkansas.

Glenn Kuper, Gregoire’s spokesman, said there had been “a lot of examination in DOC” about the Interstate Compact that transferred supervision from Arkansas to Washington, but no conclusions reached.

Sgt. Mark Renninger and Officers Ronald Owens, Tina Griswold and Gregory Richards were killed in the Nov. 29 shootings.