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Gang activity ‘moving’ into Seattle’s suburbs; summit called

Alan Cleaver
With an uptick in gang-related activity in the Puget Sound region just south of Seattle, law enforcement are calling for a meeting to find strategies for combating the trouble.

The gang-related shooting on Saturday at a custom-car show in Kent that left 13 people injured has regional law enforcement officials worried that some gang activity has moved from Seattle to its southern suburbs.

“It was gang related,” Kent Police Chief Ken Thomas told KING TV about the shooting. “No doubt in my mind. … If we don’t get out in front of it, we’re going to chase the gunfire.”

Consequently, Thomas announced in a press release his desire to hold a regional meeting of top law officers to focus on the impact of recent gang-related activity in and around the South Puget Sound area. Thomas hopes to identify strategies for dealing with organized street gangs similar to those used by Pierce County law enforcement last year. Those strategies, he said, netted several dozen arrests.

King County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. John Urquhart said anecdotal evidence and experience is leading his department to believe that gang activity is being pushed out of Seattle into the southern suburbs.

“Seattle Police Department has a good gang unit and that has moved some gang activity out of Seattle,” he said. Gang-related incidents have increased roughly 5 percent within the department’s jurisdiction, which is the unincorporated areas and cities under contract with the sheriff’s department.

Thomas added that budget cuts have reduced effectiveness in reducing gang violence, KING TV reported.

However, Urquhart said, the county has seen larger fluctuations in gang activity in previous years.

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