Kent mayor connects string of recent shootings to King County’s ‘lax prosecution of drug crimes’

Nov 29, 2021, 5:25 PM
Kent Mayor...
(Photo credit: KIRO 7 via Twitter)
(Photo credit: KIRO 7 via Twitter)

There were multiple shootings in Kent last week that appear to be connected. One victim of homicide was reported by the Kent Police Department to be the father of two shot in previous days.

Kent Mayor Dana Ralph is blaming the gun violence on King County’s “lax” prosecution of drug crime.

“From what we are able to piece together at this point, it is clearly a turf war — gangs and drugs,” Ralph told KTTH’s Jason Rantz Show. “This is exactly what you would expect when you see that amount of violence involving guns.”

“King County has been, by choice, very lax in prosecution of drug crimes,” Ralph told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson. “You throw in the Blake decision from earlier this year that essentially decriminalizes possession, and it’s a huge problem that all of us working here on the ground knew was coming.”

The Blake decision refers to the Washington state Supreme Court’s ruling in State v. Blake, which effectively renders felony drug prosecution unconstitutional in Washington. The state has recriminalized possession under ESB 5476. However, the ruling that would make possession a misdemeanor crime is set to take effect July 1, 2023. Ralph says she needs more from county government now.

Kent mayor issues statement after several shootings in same area

“We are going to be requesting that people be prosecuted, that people be held in jail,” Ralph continued.

“This is an experiment of lack of accountability that we’ve all been been living in for the last few years. The reality is, for quite some time in King County, we have not been holding people accountable, and it’s not working. The violence is getting worse. It’s not fair to our residents. We need to have changes.”

Ralph confirmed the majority of mayors in South King County are in talks with King County Executive Dow Constantine to expedite that process.

“They responded very quickly yesterday with their willingness to convene. We’re going to start there and and then take it where we need to take it,” she said. “This isn’t something we can just shrug our shoulders and hope that it’ll go away. It will continue to get worse until the people committing these crimes realize that there are consequences.”

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Kent mayor connects string of recent shootings to King County’s ‘lax prosecution of drug crimes’