Councilman proposes additional tools to combat gangs

April 9, 2012

By Warren Kagarise

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NEW — 4:50 p.m. April 9, 2012

Reagan Dunn, Newcastle representative on the King County Council, outlined additional tools Monday to combat gang-violence.

Reagan Dunn

The proposed legislation calls for establishing anti-criminal street gang emphasis areas and allow judges to prohibit people convicted of gang-related crimes from entering areas of high gang activity.

In 2011, officials recorded 802 gang-related incidents countywide.

“Illegal gang activity is on the rise and has put our communities at risk,” Dunn said in a statement. “These ordinances will give law enforcement another tool to use against those suspected of gang-related activity. It’s a giant step in the right direction and I urge my colleagues to support its immediate adoption.”

(Dunn represents rural areas south of Issaquah and Newcastle.)

The proposals head to the Council’s Law, Justice, Health and Human Services Committee for consideration.

Under the existing law, judges can restrict people convicted of drug or prostitution-related offenses from entering designated areas. Under Dunn’s proposal, judges could only enforce anti-gang areas to people convicted of misdemeanor gang-related crimes, because the County Council has no authority over state sentencing standards for felonies.

If the legislation is adopted, the council could define and establish anti-criminal street gang emphasis areas.

The other proposed ordinance is meant to fill a gap in state law in relation to gang intimidation and people trying to get out of or stay out of a gang.

The existing state law is limited to protecting people enrolled in public or alternative schools. Dunn’s proposal aims to outlaw threats of bodily injury against anybody refusing to join, trying to leave, or after leaving a gang — regardless of enrollment in school.

Dunn, a Republican, is running for state attorney general against Democrat Bob Ferguson, a fellow councilman.

The effort is the latest to combat gang violence in King County. The council set aside $1.4 million last year for anti-gang efforts.

Soon after the announcement, the Issaquah representative, Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, said the gang-related shootout at Lake Sammamish State Park in July 2010 also influenced the decision to confront gang violence. The lethal gun battle left a 33-year-old Kent man and a 30-year-old Seattle man dead.

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