Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland) has been picked to chair the House Public Safety Committee.
“In a heartbeat, a violent crime or a natural disaster can take away everything — your home, your family, your life,” Goodman said. “Our state laws must do whatever is possible to prevent crime and respond to floods, wildfires and earthquakes, because lives are literally at stake.”
Goodman, an attorney and criminal justice expert, has served as vice chair of the House Judiciary Committee for the last six years, which handles non-criminal issues involving the law and courts.
“It’s important to protect citizens from crime while safeguarding individual liberties,” Goodman said. “What’s great about Washington state is that police, prosecutors, citizens and prison officials have all worked together to do things that don’t just sound tough, but actually work.”
Washington’s criminal justice laws and programs are often picked for review by the state’s Institute for Public Policy, which looks at whether new laws and programs actually reduce crime and whether reforms are cost-effective.
“We’ve learned that some things that sound great on TV or in the newspaper actually cost a lot of money and don’t prevent crime at all,” Goodman said. “And we’ve found that things that don’t get the big headlines actually work well to stop crime and save taxpayer dollars. So it’s important to keep trying different options and testing them rigorously, because in the end, we should do what works, not just what sounds good.”
When he first arrived in the House of Representatives and got assigned to the Public Safety Committee, Goodman asked policy staff and police officers what two issues consumed most of their time and resources. They said drunk driving and domestic violence. Since then he’s worked with police, prosecutors, crime victim advocates and other lawmakers on ways to prevent domestic violence and drunk driving, and he’s won national awards for his work in this area.
“Criminals should be punished, but if that’s all you focus on, you’re missing the point,” Goodman said. “The best way to tackle crime is to prevent it from happening at all. Police officers and prosecutors like solving a case — but they like it better when they can prevent a bad situation, actually stop crime before it happens, so there’s no crime victim who got hurt or killed.”
Goodman said he appreciates hearing the stories and ideas of citizens, local police officers, sheriff deputies, prosecutors and crime victims.
“The biggest part of this job is listening,” Goodman said. “Republican or Democrat, prosecutor or defense lawyer, big city detective or small-town sheriff — everybody has stories to tell and ideas on how to prevent crime and respond to emergencies. I look forward to hearing from you, and working with you, to make Washington state an even safer place for our families and our communities.”