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Governor Inslee Hears Ideas From Yakima On How To Combat Gangs

GOVCITY
KIT News/Yakima Mayor Kathy Coffey leads a panel discussion Thursday with Governor Jay Inslee.

Washington State Governor Jay Inslee made a stop in Yakima Thursday to talk about the problems caused by gangs and guns. The Governor joined a panel of local officials at the 4th Street Theater who each had a chance to tell him how the problems are impacting young people. Mayor Kathy Coffey lead the panel.

Inslee, a former Assistant City Attorney in Selah says he knows the valley has problems with violent gangs “but I don’t want the Yakima area and this community to be defined just by this challenge.”

In November the Governor is holding a summit in Tacoma to talk about gangs and guns so he’s traveling the state to hear from communities throughout Washington. During Thursday’s meeting Inslee sat on a panel of local leaders that included Kevin Chase the Superintendent of the ESD 105. He asked Inslee to continue funding to help kids who are vulnerable. “To give them the support so that they don’t become the targets that these organized gang members look for.”

Yakima Police Chief Dominic Rizzi talked about the 11 homicides in Yakima so far this year and the challenges with trying to overcome local gang violence. He asked for more involvement from state law enforcement agencies like the Washington State Patrol. “Utilize their resources to assist the cities that are experiencing these problems. When you have that large force they can be deployed in different parts of the State.”

Inslee admits there’s no easy answer to the problems created by local gangs with guns “A law enforcement approach to help the stressed law enforcement community isn’t the only solution. A preventative approach to help people get into a soccer team and feel connected to a family of soccer players rather than a gang isn’t the only solution.” He says he’ll use the information for the gang summit in Tacoma in November.

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