Pastor Lawrence Boles and Todd Minor were appointed by the Kent City Council to be non-law enforcement community representatives on the Valley Independent Investigations Team that investigates uses of deadly force by local police departments.
While the Valley Investigation Team has been around for a number of years, this marks the first time that members of the community are part of the group. A new state law (part of Initiative 940 passed by voters in 2018) requires at least two non-law enforcement community representatives to join the team and independently observe investigations involving a use of deadly force by a officer that results in death, substantial bodily harm or great bodily harm.
“In the spirit of the law, non-law enforcement representatives serve to be the eyes and ears of the community,” Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla said during his Sept. 1 presentation to the council. “We are very pleased to add this to our team.”
The duties are laid out in the law, including to ensure that investigators do not have a conflict of interest to conduct investigations; be present during investigation briefings; preview all media releases; and have access to the investigation file.
“In essence this person is tasked with ensuring that the community has participation in the independent investigative process, ensuring accountability to the public,” according to city documents.
City staff reached out to the Kent Diversity Task Force in July requesting applications for members to serve in the positions. Boles and Minor each applied and spoke to the council at its Sept. 1 virtual meeting.
“I am humbled by the opportunity to serve the city,” said Minor, who works for Microsoft and owns Nana’s Southern Kitchen restaurant in Kent. “I think given the current environment we need more collaboration between the community and government and I thank the chief for reaching out to me to be part of this process. I look forward to be the eyes and ears for my fellow residents to carry the messages of the truth of what’s going on with these shootings.
“I hope there’s not a lot of them or any of them, but we know that’s probably not the case, so I look forward to serving.”
Boles is pastor at Redeemed by the Blood Pentecostal Church in Kent. He has spent time with congregation members walking the streets of the East Hill, particularly in the neighborhoods and establishments around South 240th Street and 108th Avenue Southeast, where police have responded to frequent shootings and chronic gang activity.
“Thanks to the chief and council, I am so honored to make history with Kent,” Boles said. “This is monumental great work of accountability ahead of us. I really believe you selected us because we are going to be the face of the city. I look forward to the work. I hope there’s not much work, but I support this initiative and the community and the leaders of Kent.”
The appointments are for three years. Auburn, Des Moines, Federal Way, Tukwila, Renton and Port of Seattle police departments that are part of the Valley Investigations Team also are expected to appoint non-law enforcement community representatives to the team.