In an open letter posted on the City of Renton’s website, South King County mayors expressed frustration and demanded action as the area’s cities are facing gun violence at record numbers and residents and businesses continue to be victimized.
The letter, dated August 4, 2022, began:
“The mayors of the South King County cities of Auburn, Black Diamond, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Kent, Pacific, Renton, and Tukwila are united in our ongoing plea to our King County and Washington state criminal justice partners to help us stem the rising tide of crime and violence in our communities.
“King County cities are seeing a disturbing rise in violent crime, as well as drug offenses and property crimes including auto thefts, burglaries, and robberies. Our community of residents, businesses, and visitors – the victims of these crimes – are fed up, and action is necessary.”
The letter points to the rise in crime coinciding with a number of events, including:
- The passage of SB 5476 which, in answer to the Washington State Supreme Court decision in State v. Blake, prevents cities and counties from charging a person with drug possession unless the person is allowed non-mandatory self-directed drug treatment for the first two offenses. Yet, there is no incentive or consequence that encourages addicted users to get into treatment, there is an insufficient system to support the addicted, and if they wanted to get into treatment, it is unavailable or too expensive.
- The passage of HB 1054 which, with the exception of DUI cases, made it unlawful for officers to engage in a vehicle pursuit when they have reasonable suspicion that a person in the vehicle has committed a criminal offense. Many offenders are aware of the law, and cases where offenders elude police are on the rise.