SEATTLE - King County plans to spend $1.4 million in reserve funds to combat the growing Latino gang problem in South King County, using both law enforcement and community outreach resources.
The Sheriff’s Office believes there are over 10,000 gang members among an estimated 140 street gangs in King County.
Gang related crime has gone up 165 percent since 2005 and has shifted from Seattle to South King County, the King County Council reports.
Council member Julia Patterson said gang violence is increasing along the Highway 99 corridor.
The Sheriff's Office estimates there are 140 criminal street gangs with more than 10,000 members in King County. Although overall crime has decreased in recent years, gang-related crime has increased 165 percent since 2005.
Gangs also are involved in prostitution rings, narcotics trafficking and various property crimes, such as burglaries and car thefts.
County leaders, including Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, told the council last week that there is a “fight on sight” mentality among rival Latino gangs, putting the general public at risk.
County Executive Dow Constantine announced the $1.4 million will be spent on expanding the prosecutor’s office anti-gang unit; equipment for the sheriff’s office gang unit; a deputy to patrol storefronts in White Center; funding the sheriff’s Latino outreach program; funding two case managers; and funding two nurses for a nurse family partnership program.
Programs will be introduced over the next six weeks with the one-time funding, said Constantine.
"We know we can't arrest our way out of this problem," Constantine said, adding that programs such as education and job training represent "investments in proven solutions."