Kent Police to step up patrols after spike in violence in East Hill neighborhood
KENT, Wash. - Families packed a room at a Kent apartment complex Tuesday night to voice their worries to police face to face after recent violence in their neighborhood.
“All I can think about is: 'what if my kids were outside?'” said concerned mom Rachel Roberts. "I have boys, they are active, they're always outside. My kids are always at that McDonald's every day, now my stomach is in knots."
Investigators used the meeting to update the community, saying they only have a vague suspect description in the gang-related shooting because witnesses haven't been cooperating, and some have tried to derail the investigation.
In the coming weeks, police said they are going to focus on the McChevron area more than any other part of the city, with more patrols and higher presence.
Police said they can’t arrest their way out of the problem, but would rather work with the community and build relationships.
A pastor, who was a cousin of the victim, said he will use the eulogy at the funeral this weekend as a chance to reach out to youth about violence.
“It was hurtful, it was hurtful to know that family has been affected,” said Pastor Lawrence Boles. “My promise to God is to go back out of the same communities that He brought me out of, in hopes of compelling young men and women to get off the streets. That's indeed my petition to young people that is another way and you are loved."
Police said they hope to get 20 more officers on the streets with a ballot measure heading to a special election in April.
"We need to do everything within our power to address the concept of people not feeling safe,” said Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas. “That is absolutely our number one priority as a police department, is to keep our community safe.”
Police said the McChevron area makes up 3.2 percent of all the CAD incidents and 911 calls in the city over the last 13 months.
Police said that’s 3,458 incidents out of 106, 165 incidents city wide.