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King County Executive Dow Constantine announces proposed public safety plan

The plan would invest millions into body cameras, transit security guards, county jail and sheriff staffing and a gun violence unit.

KING COUNTY, Wash. — King County Executive Dow Constantine proposed his multi-million dollar plan to cut down on crime at a press conference on Monday.

The public safety plan comes at a time when crime is on the rise in King County.

Shootings have been trending up. In 2021, there were 460 reported victims. Eighty-eight people were shot and killed, and 372 were injured. In 2022, there have been 424 shooting victims as of July. Twenty of those were fatal.

In January, Metro transit workers told KING 5 that drug use has increased on buses and has gotten out of hand.

In August, eight mayors in South King County even signed a public plea for help to cut down on crime.

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With the rise in crime and staff shortages at the King County Sheriff's Office (KCSO) and county jails, people are looking for answers.

"We really need to provide a higher level of public safety. Our community is demanding it," Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone said.

Constantine addressed the public safety crisis and said the county's sense of safety and security has eroded.

Constantine's new two-year safety plan includes $2 million to create a new KCSO unit to reduce gun violence and hire more detectives and $5 million to equip the KCSO deputies with body cameras.

The plan also includes $21 million for 50 extra Metro Transit security guards, which would bring the total to 140.

"Transit security officers are deployed where our data shows that we need to invest in those resources," King County Metro General Manager Michelle Allison said.

The plan also aims to hire 100 more corrections officers at the county's adult and juvenile detention departments. In addition to staffing, there will be investments in behavioral health programs, restoring jail services and looking into jail alternatives in Seattle.

Dennis Folk, the president representing corrections officers in King County, said the budget is one thing, but accountability is another.

"What it comes down to, these are taxpayer dollars being spent," Folk said. "So if you're going to throw millions of dollars at a program, let's make sure those millions of dollars actually work."

The King County Council will hold briefings and public hearings on the proposed budget through October.

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