SEATTLE – King County plans to spend $1.4 million in reserve funds to combat the growing gang problem in South King County, using both law enforcement and community outreach resources.
The Sheriff’s Office believes there are over 10,000 gang members among an estimated 140 street gangs in King County. Gang related crime has gone up 165 percent since 2005 and has shifted from Seattle to South King County, the King County Council reports.
The increase in gang activity in the suburbs was highlighted July 23, when rival gang members opened fire at a car show in Kent, wounding 12 people, according to Kent Police. Another person was shot later that night at an apartment complex in what police believe was a retaliatory shooting.
County leaders, including Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, told the council last week that there is a “fight on sight” mentality among rival Latino gangs, putting the general public at risk.
County Executive Dow Constantine announced Tuesday that $1.4 million from a reserve fund will be spent on expanding the prosecutor’s office anti-gang unit; equipment for the sheriff’s office gang unit; a deputy to patrol storefronts in White Center; funding the sheriff’s Latino outreach program; funding two case managers; and funding two nurses for a nurse family partnership program.
The reserve fund was established after 28 sheriff’s deputies and 16 deputy prosecutors were eliminated as part of budget cuts this year.
Gang-related violence has increased over the past three years, according to the prosecutor's office. In 2008 and 2009, King County averaged 29 gang-related homicides and 200 reported gang-related shootings.