Homicides in Kent close to double compared to year with 5 months to go

28 July 2023

Through seven months of this year, Kent has had 15 homicides, dwarfing last year’s count (nine), with nearly half of 2023 remaining.

Kent’s Police Chief Rafael Padilla told KIRO 7 problems with gang violence and the fentanyl crisis is causing the murder rate to spike.

“I can speak absolutely with all confidence that a major driver for violent crime in our city is drugs,” Padilla said. “Drug usage, drug trafficking.”

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Kent Police are currently investigating a shooting that happened at an apartment complex at approximately 2 a.m. Thursday, right outside of a preschool. The victim was shot in the head and is reported to be in critical condition. There were three previous shootings this year at the apartment complex near the school, according to KIRO 7.

In addition to the 15 homicides, there has been an officer-involved shooting and an incident where a man died after being restrained by a security guard in Kent this year.

“In my 31 years now, this is as bad as I’ve ever seen it,” Padilla told KIRO 7. “We want people to know we’re extremely concerned, and we’re maximizing what we can do. There are a lot of informal battles – literal gun battles to control the fentanyl trade.”

Kent ranks 29% higher than the national average in murder rate, 58% higher in cases involving rape, and 128% higher in instances of robbery, according to Neighborhood Scout. Shadow Lake West, Meridian Heights West, Lake Morton Berrydale North, Lake Morton – Berrydale, and Tudor Square are the “safest” neighborhoods in Kent.

Property crime is just as rampant within the city. Kent has a rate of 49.12 reported instances of property crime, 57% more than Washington state’s average and 159% more than the national average. There is a 1-in-20 chance a resident of Kent will be a victim of a property crime, compared to a 1-in-32 chance throughout the entire state.

Still, according to Population U, Kent only qualified as the 16th-most dangerous city in Washington in terms of crime rate per 1,000 residents.

“To determine the most dangerous cities in Washington in 2023, we have reviewed the number of violent crimes reported in 2022, 2021, 2020, and 2019, with data from the Uniform Crime Reporting Program,” Population U wrote, breaking down its data. “Seattle being the most populous city in Washington, registered 54,912 violent crime cases. Other high crime rate cities include Tukwila, Tacoma, Fife, Burlington, Toppenish, Airway Heights, Puyallup, Spokane, Chehalis, Union Gap, and Sumner.”

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Kent has one of the fewest officers per capita for Puget Sound cities, with just 1.2 officers per 1,000 people, compared to 1.8 for Everett, 1.6 for Seattle, and 1.5 for Tacoma.

“We simply don’t have the resources to do the preventative patrols, presence,” Padilla told KIRO 7. “Right now, we’re just keeping up with 911 calls.”

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