By Mellow DeTray

Here’s our recap of the Kent City Council meeting held on Tuesday night, Mar. 21, 2023:

Chief’s Award For Professional Excellence

Commander Andy Grove received a high honor from Police Chief Rafael Padilla. Chief Padilla explained that he has only given this award 2 or 3 times, and it is reserved for people working at an extremely high level to shape or change the police department in an innovative way. Padilla teared up a little as he gave the reasons Commander Grove has earned this honor. Grove has done outstanding and tireless work to establish the Community Immersion Law Enforcement Project (CILEP).

CILEP involves every aspiring police officer giving 320 hours of service with a community organization, before completing any police training. This helps them to build important relationships and be involved in the community firsthand. Padilla said 34 or 35 police academy graduates have completed the CILEP program since its inception in 2020. Commander Grove had to overcome many roadblocks along the way, but the program has become highly successful at integrating new officers into the community they will serve. The pilot program was studied by researchers at the UW, with incredible results.

Vehicle Theft Prevention

Chief Padilla said that stolen vehicle rates have been soaring nationwide, and unfortunately Washington is leading the way with higher instances of vehicle theft than any other state. Of particular concern are certain models of Kia & Hyundai, which lately are the top choices for car thieves. The police department has hosted several events giving steering wheel locks to owners of these cars, and plan to host more soon. Padilla is recommending car owners who don’t qualify for the giveaway purchase these theft prevention devices on their own, which don’t cost a lot of money.

Community Meetings & Coffee With the Chief

The police are going to be hosting “town hall” style community meetings in person again after a long hiatus due to the COVID pandemic. The next meeting will be 6 p.m. on May 10 at Meridian Elementary School. There will be a presentation of current events, followed by a period for all questions from the community. Additionally, officers will provide resources for community crime prevention.

For a more intimate conversation with a cop, you can also join officers & Chief Padilla on March 29 from 8-10 a.m. at Cutters Point Coffee. This is a chance to get to know the police officers, as well as ask any questions you may have.

Four new police officers were also sworn in at the council meeting.

Public Comments

A concerned community member addressed the Mayor about a planned fence around the Phoenix Court Apartments, which he said would limit his family’s access to the property. He requested the city at least consider adding a gate in the fence for pedestrian access. Mayor Dana Ralph responded that the building has safety issues which the fence will hopefully address, and they will look into ways of maintaining access while increasing safety.

Roads Improvements

Around $2.8 million will be spent on chip seals and overlays this year, completing needed pavement repairs throughout the city.

Mellow DeTray is a Seattle native who has spent the last 16 years raising her family in Burien. She has volunteered at many local establishments over the years, including the Burien Library, Burien Actors Theatre, and Hot Feet Fitness. After working for ten years at Burien Community Center, she moved on to teaching fitness classes and to work the front desk of a Burien yoga studio. For many years Mellow kept 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.

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