Kent Police have responded to more than 200 shots fired calls over the last few years with numerous drive-by shootings and gunfire exchanges on the streets.
But Police Chief Rafael Padilla told the City Council on Tuesday night that the number of shots fired calls are trending down so far in 2019 compared to the previous two years.
“Our homicides are down a little,” Padilla said during his monthly public safety report. “Our shootings that result in somebody being injured are down a little. Our property damage from shootings is down quite a bit with the buildings being hit and windows being broken. And just general reports of people shooting guns is down quite a bit.”
The number of homicides through the first nine months of this year is three compared to five in all of 2017 and five in 2018, according to police stats. A total of 18 people were injured by gunfire in 2017, 14 in 2018 and 12 so far this year. Twenty-six buildings were damaged by gunfire in 2017, 22 in 2018 and 16 so far in 2019.
Reports of shots fired (that didn’t hit anyone or any building or windows) totaled 41 in 2017, 32 in 2018 and 18 so far this year.
The totals in all of those shots fired categories were 90 in 2017, 73 in 2018 and 49 through the first nine months of this year.
“It’s still far too much crime occurring with the use of firearms, but we are glad we are seeing the numbers headed in the right direction for this year,” Padilla said.
Padilla said the stats do not include domestic violence crimes that involved firearms as those are kept in a separate category.
“These are ones known as drive-by shootings, shootings on the streets and illegal discharges where they crank off rounds,” he said.
Padilla said the work by Pastor Lawrence Boles III and members of the Redeemed by the Blood Pentecostal Church to walk the streets of the East Hill has helped reduce the number of shootings in the neighborhoods and establishments around South 240th Street and 108th Avenue Southeast. Besides taking to the streets, Boles and the church hosted a community barbecue in August that drew more than 200 people in efforts to make the area safer.
“We’ve had one shooting there this year and we had 10 last year,” Padilla said. “It’s a great example of partnering with the community to take back our neighborhoods.”
Kent’s numbers also were reduced after a five-month operation by law enforcement agencies in 2018 focused on gun violence on the East Hill. Eight men were charged and sentenced for gun and drug crimes committed in Kent as part of “Operation East Watch” by law enforcement agencies, led by the U.S. Department of Justice.
Twenty-nine shots fired in the first half of 2018 on the East Hill which prompted the task force to focus on drug dealers in the neighborhoods.
Kent Mayor Dana Ralph told Padilla she appreciated his report.
“Thank you for sharing those stats,” Ralph said. “It’s important that our community understand the reality of what is happening. Any crime is too much crime, we are all going to agree on that. But through your leadership and the work of our department all of our stats are trending in the right direction. I think it’s important that the community see that and understand the work being done to decreasing that.
“Those stats that you showed on shots fired, that’s pretty dramatic. It’s easy for people to get very worked up because they see things on social media and they’re like, ‘oh my goodness, this is happening,’ and the reality is Kent is a safe community.”