Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla updates the City Council June 18 about the latest crime statistics in the city. SCREENSHOT, Kent City Council

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla updates the City Council June 18 about the latest crime statistics in the city. SCREENSHOT, Kent City Council

Most Kent crime numbers declining so far in 2024 compared to 2023

Homicides, robberies, vehicle thefts, residential burglaries fewer in first 5 months

Most Kent crime numbers are down through the first five months of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

Homicides, robberies, vehicle prowls, vehicle thefts and residential burglaries are each lower so far this year compared to this point in 2023. Shootings and aggravated assaults (with a weapon) are up and commercial burglary numbers are the same.

“Some modest progress is being made,” Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla told the City Council during his June 18 Public Safety Report. “Overall, this represents a reduction in crime. We still have a lot more work to do, but a couple of reports back we anticipated we’d see a leveling off, and we are.”

Padilla credited part of the reduction in crime to stabilized staffing numbers. Rookie officers are getting trained faster to help on patrols and the chief has been able to backfill detective and specialty units.

“It’s having the resources to be out there to respond quicker and to investigate,” Padilla said.

The chief didn’t hesitate to put a plug in for even more officers, something city leaders would like the state Legislature to help fund.

“Imagine what we could do with 34 more officers,” he said of his goal to have 200 on staff.

Fewer homicides

Kent has had four homicides so far this year compared to nine at this time in 2023.

Padilla said the department puts a lot of resources into solving homicides and just one of the four so far this year remains unsolved, the June 3 fatal shooting of Cristopher Medina Zelaya, 18, a Kent-Meridian High student, at Campus Park near the school. He said they have strong leads in that case.

He said three other cases were solved with the arrest of a suspect in the Feb. 20 fatal drive-by shooting of a 17-year-old boy along East Valley Highway; the arrest of a suspect in the May 2 shooting at the Meeker Street Bar & Grill; and the self-defense case of the man who shot another man Feb. 16 at the Central Avenue bus stop.

“Four cases, three of them solved,” Padilla said.

Kent had 13 homicides by shootings in 2023, eight in 2022, 11 in 2021 and four in 2020.

“I don’t want to jinx anything but we are trending at a reduced rate of homicides in this city,” he said.

Other crimes up, down

So far this year through May compared to 2023, robberies are down 18% from 104 to 85. Residential burglaries are down 16% from 107 to 89.

Vehicle thefts are down 27% from 974 to 708. Vehicle prowls are down 10% from 398 to 358.

There’s been no change in commercial burglaries with 258 in each year from January through May.

Aggravated assaults are up 26% from 65 to 82. Shootings are up 22% from 59 to 72.

Shooting incidents in 2023

Kent had a drop in shooting incidents in 2023 compared to 2022 of 9.6% from 176 to 159. The city had 166 incidents in 2021 and 107 in 2020.

“We’ve made some progress but when you factor in we’ve had historically high numbers, I do not want to kid anybody – we have a lot of work to do,” Padilla said. “But I’ll take any progress I can.”

Shooting incidents include homicides, shots that injured somebody, shots that damaged property and shots where nobody was hurt or killed and no property damaged.

Kent had 38 shots that injured somebody in 2023 compared to 54 in 2022, 46 in 2021 and 30 in 2020.

The city had 40 shots that damaged property in 2023 compared to 49 in 2022, 38 in 2021 and 30 in 2020.

Shots fired in Kent increased slightly in 2023 with 68 compared to 65 in 2022, 71 in 2021 and 43 in 2020.

In King County shooting incidents, there were 1,701 in 2023 compared to 1,654 in 2022, a 3% increase. There were 107 fatal shootings in the county compared to 83 in 2022, a 23% jump.

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