Dunn, Phillips call for response to gang violence in South King County

Metropolitan King County Councilmembers Reagan Dunn and Larry Phillips today sent a letter to King County Executive Dow Constantine requesting additional resources for the Prosecuting Attorney to use to fight gang violence in South King County.

On July 23, 13 people in Kent were injured during a shootout involving two rival gangs. There have been at least two retaliatory attacks since the initial incident.

"This situation has the potential to escalate into a full war," Dunn said. "Prosecutor (Dan) Satterberg and Sheriff (Sue) Rahr need the resources to prosecute gang related crimes to the fullest. A message must be sent that we will not tolerate this kind of violence in our community."

Last week, the Kent Police Department convened a meeting of 60 top law enforcement officials from King and Pierce Counties in response to the July attacks. The officials agreed to work collaboratively to target the most violent gangs and gang members for aggressive enforcement action.

The letter from Dunn and Phillips requests Constantine to submit a package of funding from the Criminal Justice reserve to fight gang related crimes. On July 25, the Council voted to preserve the Criminal Justice reserve rather than spend it on a computer system.

"Escalating gang violence in King County is an emerging threat to public safety that needs to be addressed swiftly," Phillips said. "The gang violence incident in south King County is an example of the type of threat the Council had in mind when we created the criminal justice reserve. Now is the time to use funds from the reserve to ensure we have the resources to keep King County residents safe from gang violence."

The King County Prosecuting Attorney's office has lost 51 FTE's over the past three years as a result of budget cuts. At the same time, King County has averaged 29 gang related homicides and 200 gang related shootings.

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