Here’s our recap of the Kent City Council meeting held on Tuesday night, July 18, 2023:

Employee of the Month

Julie Stormes, Senior Prosecutor for the city of Kent, began working for the legal department as an assistant in 2002 and has moved up the ranks since. She is diligent, thorough, and works with integrity. She is also concerned for the safety of the community and holds people accountable, while still being compassionate. She handled an appellate case that made it illegal in the state for drivers to have more than 5 nanograms of THC in their bloodstream.

Proclamations

The first proclamation recognises July as Parks & Recreation Month. Parks & Recreation programs build healthy, active communities. The department also provides jobs, including many positions for younger workers. They have many community events throughout the year, but especially during the summer. For info on Parks & Rec happenings, see their webpage.

The second proclamation honors National Night Out (NNO) on Tuesday, Aug. 1, 2023. This community event has been happening around the country for 39 years. It promotes safety as well as community cohesion and friendship. The event began as a way to recognise citizens’ impact on crime prevention. You can register your NNO event, or find an existing one, at this link.

The final proclamation drew some tears from council and the mayor. It supports awareness of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, which affect 1 in 20 school age children and is the number one preventable birth defect. The proclamation was presented to a pair of 10 ½ year old siblings, who had come to Mayor Dana Ralph to make the case for the need for more awareness. The twins, who are obviously very bright and capable, do suffer from learning challenges, as the brother explained, and can get frustrated easily. They also lost a sibling who was more affected by complications of FASD. The brother spoke movingly of their life and their mission to raise awareness of this widespread and preventable disorder. The prevention is simply avoiding alcohol during pregnancy.

Public Safety Report

Three new officers were presented and sworn in, and one officer, Roland Haney, was given the Chief’s Award for Professional Excellence. On May 16th, Officer Haney was informed that a female had been assaulted and dragged into a van. He chose to pursue and was able to successfully apprehend the captor, and the kidnapped woman was rescued. This took place before the recent update to the law that now allows police pursuit under conditions of reasonable suspicion, and Officer Haney made the quick decision to risk being in the wrong but save the victim.

Crime Stats

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla also gave council an update on statewide and city crime data. Much of the information is pretty bleak.

  • Across the state, overall crime is up 8.5% since 2021.
  • Violent crimes increased by 8.9%, with murders at an all-time high of 394, an increase of 16.6%.
  • Robberies are up 18%, and vehicle theft increased by 34%.
  • Chief Padilla said that the Washington State murder trend has been increasing rapidly for the past four years.

In Kent specifically, the numbers are a little different:

  • Overall crime increased by 13.6%.
  • Murders were down by 25%.
  • Robberies increased by 8.2%.
  • Aggravated assault increased by 35.4%.
  • Sexual Assault decreased by 26.7%.
  • Vehicle theft increased by 26.7%.

The full report is available here.

In explanation of these trends, Padilla said that Washington state has the lowest per capita numbers of police officers in the country. He said this has been true for 14 years, and events in 2020 drove even more people away from the field of law enforcement. Since crime is regional, statewide officer shortages affect everyone. Additionally, Kent has one of the lowest per capita officer numbers in the state. Law enforcement needs to be more preventative, he said, which requires more officers on the streets. He also stressed the need to advocate for accountability of criminals.

Chief Padilla pointed out several issues driving increased crime nationwide, including the drug epidemic, homeless camps, restrictions on evictions of problem tenants, the unbalanced approach of the criminal justice system that de-emphasises accountability, restrictions on law enforcement, and of course staffing shortages on the force. He added that as the population grows, the number of officers needs to increase to keep pace.

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in the region. For many years she published a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.

Mellow DeTray

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in the region. For many years she published a moderately popular cooking & lifestyle blog, and she had a brief stint in political journalism during a local election. Clear and informative writing has always been a side hobby of Mellow’s and she looks forward to bringing you unbiased coverage of City Council meetings.