Kent is a safe community, says Police Chief Ken Thomas

It’s been a busy summer for the police department. Recent media coverage of a high-profile case where an innocent child lost their life can make one question the level of safety in Kent. While horribly tragic, it was an isolated incident.

I can tell you this…Kent is a safe city, and the statistics back it up.

A lot of our work at the police department is driven by data.  In 2007, we implemented an Intelligence Led Policing (ILP) strategy and have been refining it since.  Utilized successfully by police departments all across the country, the basic idea of ILP is to deploy police resources to areas that will give us the highest likelihood of success in combating crime.

We start by reviewing calls for service, crime reports, resident complaints and intelligence information on a weekly basis.  Using this data, we deploy our officers and detectives to these “hot spots” and focus on “high impact offenders”.  This ILP strategy works so well because it’s a known fact that a relatively small number of people are responsible for committing the majority of crimes.

I am proud of our police department and happy to report that our ILP efforts have been extremely successful.  We work very hard to keep our community safe and ensure a high quality of life for those who make Kent their home.  You don’t have to take my word for it; crime rates back it up.

Crime rates are obtained by taking the number and type of crimes reported over a period of time; dividing that number by the population of the jurisdiction, and multiplying it by 1,000.  The result is the number of each type of crime that occurred per 1,000 population – the crime rate.

Since ILP was implemented, Kent’s crime rates have dramatically reduced.  In fact, Kent has some of the lowest crime rates in the region. The accompanying graphs illustrate Kent’s crime rates compared to what they were in 2006, as well as how they compared in 2014 to our neighbors in Auburn, Des Moines, Federal Way, Renton, Seattle and Tacoma. The numbers for Kent in 2015 are trending in similar fashion.  The specific cities’ crime rate information is available at the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs website at WASPC.org.

Violent crime and safety is something that many residents are concerned about for themselves and their families. These graphs show a starkly different picture than what online news commenters would have us believe. Kent has the lowest aggravated assault crime rate of any city in the region.

Likewise, a review of the crime rates for robbery shows that Kent again has the second-lowest rate of all the jurisdictions compared.

And a quality- of-life crime that can have a significant impact on our community is burglaries.  A review shows Kent’s crime rate, while not the lowest, is still on the lower end of jurisdictions used in the comparison.

This is not to say that Kent is crime-free, or that our officers are not kept busy on a daily and weekly basis.  The periodic public safety reports I present at city council meetings include the many incidents that take up our police officers’ time for response, investigation and follow-up.

While we are busy, what I hope is apparent to readers after seeing our crime rates, is that crime is far below what it was before ILP was implemented, and is among the lowest in the region.

Unless one associates with those who break the law, Kent is safe for most residents.  This is good news, not only for those who live and work here, but for those families and/or businesses looking to locate here.  People don’t need to fear for their safety while out of their homes or out on a walk in the evening.

Aggressively fighting crime and keeping our community safe is not something that can effectively be done by the police alone.  In many ways, the public-at-large plays a part in how safe the community is. It is through great partnerships like Block and Business Watch, and events such as National Night Out where our Community Education Unit educates residents on how to prevent crime and report anything suspicious.

All of these efforts lead to a safer community with a higher quality of life for our residents.