Domestic violence rally in Kent includes acknowledgement of police officers

The work of Kent Police detective Jeremiah Johnson and Renton Police officer John Awai helped result in the arrest of a 34-year-old Renton man with a history of domestic violence. "We go after the worst of the worst," Johnson said of his work with Kent's Special Investigations Unit. "With this guy's history, he qualifies."

Attorney General Rob McKenna kicked off Domestic Violence awareness and prevention month on the steps of the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent Oct. 1.

Attorney General Rob McKenna kicked off Domestic Violence awareness and prevention month on the steps of the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent Oct. 1.

The work of Kent Police detective Jeremiah Johnson and Renton Police officer John Awai helped result in the arrest of a 34-year-old Renton man with a history of domestic violence.

“We go after the worst of the worst,” Johnson said of his work with Kent’s Special Investigations Unit. “With this guy’s history, he qualifies.”

Johnson and Awai were honored for their work as part of a regional law enforcement rally against domestic violence Oct. 1 outside the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent.

Officers from Kent, Auburn, Renton, Tukwila, Federal Way and the King County Sheriff’s Office attended the rally as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. The Auburn Domestic Violence Task Force sponsored the event.

Johnson and Awai received the annual Norm Maleng Law Enforcement Award from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office for their efforts to combat domestic violence.

“It’s a good feeling to know something positive has been done,” Awai said after he received the award. “The real relief is on the victim’s face when she knows the man is in custody and she can relax a little bit. We don’t look for accolades, we just do our job. The main thing is the victim is safe.”

The work by Johnson and Awai led to the arrest in June of a Renton man who now faces charges for felony stalking, fourth-degree assault/ domestic violence and harassment/domestic violence. He remains in the King County jail in lieu of $550,000 bail.

As many as six women have filed protection orders against the man over the last 11 years, according to charging papers.

Kent Police investigated a report from a Kent woman about the man, her former boyfriend, who had stalked her with phone calls and letters.

Awai became involved when he took the call in response to a woman claiming that a man had violated a protection order she filed against him. Awai interviewed the woman and discovered it was the same Renton man wanted by Kent Police.

Renton Police checked an address for the man but did not find him. Johnson and the Kent plainclothes officers joined the search, found the man and took him into custody.

“It all started to snowball,” Awai said. “We have a good case against him.”

Because of a new law passed earlier this year by the Legislature, the Renton man, if convicted, faces a longer sentence. That’s because anyone with a history of domestic violence can now have previous convictions used against them for a longer sentence.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna spoke at the rally and explained the importance of the new law to reform sentencing for domestic violence offenders.

“Now sentences can be enhanced because we can take into account prior convictions,” McKenna said to a small crowd gathered outside the Maleng Regional Justice Center. “If someone has a history, they will not just spend a few months in the county jail but will go to the state prison (for a sentence of one year or more).”

McKenna said awareness about domestic violence has come a long ways over the last few decades.

“We’ve brought domestic violence out of the shadows and provide help to the survivors,” McKenna said. “We also have found news ways to raise awareness.”

McKenna praised the Purple Lights Night campaign in Covington that encourages people to put a purple light bulbs in their front porch light this month to raise awareness and remember domestic violence victims. He said the purple light campaign has spread to nearly 20 states.

“People put the purple light out to say that we won’t tolerate domestic violence in our community,” McKenna said.

Kent Police Chief Steve Strachan also spoke at the rally and emphasized the importance to keep domestic violence exposed rather than hidden as it was in the past.

“It is not OK to use violence against a partner,” Strachan said. “We need to focus on the message that it is not OK to use violence against a partner ever.”

For more information about domestic violence, go to the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network at www.dawnonline.org; call DAWN’s 24-hour crisis hotline at 425-656-7867 or contact the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence at www.kccadv.org or 206-568-5454.


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