On Aug. 4, the mayors of several South King County cities that include Auburn, Black Diamond, Enumclaw, Federal Way, Kent, Pacific, Renton and Tukwila released a joint statement regarding what they called a “rising tide of crime and violence” in their 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,” the mayors’ joint statement read. “Our community of residents, businesses, and visitors – the victims of these crimes – are fed up and action is necessary.”
Their statement cited several coinciding events as contributing factors to the increase of crime that include:
– A new state law for simple possession of illicit drugs which allows offenders to find “non-mandatory self-directed drug treatment” for the first two possession offenses. In the statement the mayors argue that there is no incentive or consequences to encourage drug users to get treatment, as well as an “insufficient system to support the addicted,” which they say does not provide proper access to affordable addiction treatment.
– A “flood” of methamphetamines and fentanyl dealers that engage in “violent drug turf wars.”
– Recently adopted police pursuit laws that they argue hinder police officers and their ability to apprehend fleeing suspects.
– A court system with a high case backlog that takes months, even years, for criminal cases to be tried and resolved.
– A felony prosecution system which they claim files misdemeanor charges against defendants that would be charged with higher felonies in other parts of the state – and a filing system that they argue allows offenders to avoid accountability.
Additionally, their statement claimed that police officers had reported that perpetrators seem to understand some of the new police laws and can exploit them to their advantage.
“The Cities now call on the county and the state to take immediate measures to address the toll that increases in crime is taking on our community members,” their statement read. “Young people are dying in the streets, public spaces are being destroyed, and the homes, businesses and belongings our community members have worked for are at continuous risk of loss.”
The statement was collectively signed by Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus, Black Diamond Mayor Carol Benson, Enumclaw Mayor Jan Molinaro, Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell, Kent Mayor Dana Ralph, Pacific Mayor Leanne Guier, Renton Mayor Armondo Pavone, and Tukwila Mayor Allan Ekberg.