Felons convicted of a violent offense who are found wearing or possessing body armor could face additional prison time under a bill introduced last week by Rep. Dan Roach (R-Bonney Lake).
House Bill 1922 would create a Class C felony for anyone convicted of a violent offense who is knowingly in possession of body armor.
Roach says the idea for the legislation was brought to him by a Seattle police officer who lives in the 31st District.
“Criminals are now trying to use the same tools as law enforcement officers to protect themselves and get away with their crimes. It’s obvious if you are a convicted felon wearing a bulletproof vest, you’re probably up to no good,” said Roach.
Recently, said Roach, Seattle police arrested a 20-year-old man who was charged with a drive-by shooting, attempting to elude police and unlawful possession of a firearm. He was also in possession of body armor.
“People like this need to be taken off the streets. This measure would make them spend additional time in prison if they are convicted of having body armor,” added Roach.
Under Roach’s measure, those convicted of body armor possession could receive up to five years and/or up to a $10,000 fine.
The measure also provides certain exceptions, such as if a law enforcement officer provided body armor for the protection of the suspect during transport or accompanying the officer, or if at least 15 years has passed since the person had been convicted of a violent offense.
The measure has been referred to the Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee.