King County unveils ‘urgent’ plan to address recent increase in gun violence
King County officials announced a new emergency budget amendment Tuesday, designed to address a continued uptick in gun violence across the region.
That’s a trend that dates back to 2020, where King County saw a 36% increase in shots fired over the previous year. That then carried over into the early months of 2021, where the number of shots fired incidents in the first quarter rose 25% from the four-year average between 2017 and 2020, while shooting victims increased by 27%.
Leaders also pointed to shootings last weekend in the Central District, White Center, and Pioneer Square as reminders of the ongoing issues gun violence has posed in recent months. Additional concerns have also been voiced over the fact that the bulk of these shootings have involved young men of color, while 42% of victims in the first quarter of 2021 have been between the ages of 18 and 24.
King County’s new proposal will see it put $1.47 million into “data-driven identification of the groups and neighborhoods at the highest risk of being involved in a shooting, increased community engagement, and increasing community staffing.”
“In what is shaping up to be a record breaking, heartbreaking year for gun violence in our country, interventions that place people and communities first are going to be integral to stop this pain,” King County Councilmember Joe McDermott said in a written release.
Of that $1.47 million, $768,000 will go toward hiring additional “violence interrupters,” case managers, and life coaches to work in communities like White Center, Skyway, Burien, Kent, and the Central District. Another $100,000 will go toward consultants with experience handling gun violence in cities like Oakland.
The remaining funds will go toward extending existing contract positions and increasing staff capacity for the county’s Regional Peacekeepers Collective.