By Mellow DeTray
Here’s our recap of the Kent City Council meeting held on Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2023:
YMCA Advisory Board Seeks Support
The newly formed YMCA Advisory Board is looking for board members among the Council or City Staff, as well as sponsors, donors, members, and volunteers. Ainsworth Jackson, representing the Advisory Board, stated that the YMCA is not just a gym; they also focus on solving problems of today, and preparing youth to succeed, ultimately strengthening the foundations of the community.
Free Community Recycling Event
The City of Kent will host three free community recycling events in 2023, the first of which will happen on Mar. 4 at Hogan Park. These events allow community members to recycle items that are not recyclable through curbside pickup. For more information on what can be recycled at this event, follow this link.
Public Safety Report
According to Police Chief Rafael Padilla, the top four State Legislative goals for local law enforcement include
- Updating the drug possession law
- Changing the police pursuit limitations
- Stricter enforcement against street racing
- Funding for hiring more police officers.
Fentanyl on the Rise
Chief Padilla explained that the voluntary drug treatment plan is not working. Fentanyl is the number three killer of adults in the country, and that rate continues to climb. Padilla isn’t advocating for jail time for drug users, but he believes compulsory treatment would make a difference where voluntary treatment is not. Under this model, users would have the crime wiped from their records after sticking to the treatment plan.
On the matter of police pursuits, Chief Padilla said that at this point only non-criminals are stopping for the police. The criminals know they aren’t going to be chased down because of the limitations on police pursuit. Padilla wants the restrictions to be lifted, allowing police to pursue drivers who are under reasonable suspicion of a crime.
Street Racing Crackdown
Chief Padilla also wants to go harder after the organizers of street racing. His plan includes impounding the vehicles used in illegal racing, so those who participate can’t just get right back to racing once they’re let out of jail. He also would like to see these vehicles forfeited if a person is convicted of street racing.
More Officers Needed
Finally, Chief Padilla said that Washington State has the lowest number of police officers per capita, of any state or Washington DC. This has been true for the past 12 years. By his count, Kent needs 29 new officers to get to a reasonable amount of officers for the City’s population size. He said that Kent’s call response time has increased by 20% since 2018, and that’s despite doing everything they can to get more officers on the road, such as having them work 12 hour shifts. Delays in response time have led to many complaints from the community.
Community Police Academy Enrollment Now Open
The popular course will take place between April 4th and June 6th, on Tuesday evenings from 6:30-9pm. There is no cost to participate. Spots fill up quickly, so if you’re interested in learning more about behind-the-scenes police work, follow this link to apply. All sessions will be held at Kent Police / Fire Training Center, and after completing the course participants can do a ride-along with an officer during their shift.