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Metropolitan King County Council

Earning public trust, enhancing quality of life, protecting public health and safety
Metropolitan King County Council
516 Third Ave., Rm. 1200
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: 206-296-1000
Toll Free: 800-325-6165
TTY/TDD: 206-296-1024
Fax: 206-296-0198

council@kingcounty.gov
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April 9, 2012

Dunn proposes new tools to combat gangs in King County

New measures will focus on areas suffering from high levels of criminal gang activity

Metropolitan King County Councilmember Reagan Dunn today introduced legislation to assist law enforcement combat criminal street gangs threatening King County communities. The proposed legislation would establish anti-criminal street gang emphasis areas, giving judges the ability to prohibit individuals convicted of gang-related activity from entering certain high-impact gang areas defined by the County Council.

“Illegal gang activity is on the rise and has put our communities at risk,” said Dunn. “These ordinances will give law enforcement another tool to use against those suspected of gang-related activity. It’s a giant step in the right direction and I urge my colleagues to support its immediate adoption.”

In 2011, there were 802 gang-related incidents reported in King County. According to the King County Sheriff’s Office, there has been a 165 percent increase in gang-related crime since 2005.

Judges currently have the ability to restrict individuals convicted of drug or prostitution-related offenses from entering specially designated areas. Because the King County Council has no authority over state sentencing standards, judges would have to limit enforcement of anti-gang emphasis areas to individuals convicted of misdemeanor crimes with ties to gang activity.

If the first ordinance is adopted, the King County Council will define and establish anti-criminal street gang emphasis areas where law enforcement has identified a history of gang-related arrests.

The second ordinance fills a gap in state law in relation to gang intimidation and the safety of all people, young and adult, who may be trying to get out of or stay out of a criminal street gang. Current state law leaves people who are not enrolled in public or alternative schools vulnerable and does not protect them from gang intimidation.

This legislation would make it unlawful for any person to knowingly threaten another person with bodily injury because that individual refuses to join, is trying to leave, or has left a gang, regardless of enrollment in school.

The ordinances have been referred to the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee for discussion and possible action.