KENNEWICK, Wash. - A five man gang unit in Benton County has been on the beat for about a year now. And what a difference a year makes. While gang activity in the Tri-Cities has been on the rise for some time now, the newest gang unit is gaining ground and turning back that trend. They're focused on intelligence, public education and suppression of gangs and their members.
"Obviously my primary responsibility is to keep our community safe and violent gang crime is a huge concern of mine and other chiefs in this area," said Benton County Sheriff Steve Keane.
In fact, a main component of the Benton County Gang Unit is working with other agencies in the area.
"We work with our local agencies a lot more closely, obviously, but we actually help one another all the time on different things that are going on because the criminals don't recognize jurisdictional boundaries. So we meet on a regular basis," Keane said.
"A lot of people look at a shoulder patch and see Benton County, Pasco, Kennewick, Richland and they don't realize how seamlessly the units work together and that happens every single day," said Richland Police Captain Mike Cobb.
Law enforcement added more than 130 gang documentation forms in 2012, up from just 41 the year before. Those documentations help authorities keep track of known gang members.
Also, Benton County reports an almost 100% arrest rate for gang graffiti and car thefts, which are often gang related, have dropped by 40%.
But Sheriff Keane believes getting a good handle on the gang issue starts with intervention and prevention.
Local News Washington News Idaho News National International Connect With Kleck KHQ MD Invest Northwest KHQ Birthdays Sports from SWX Pro Sports College Sports High School Sports
Forecast Discussion HD Doppler 6i Radar 6 Day Forecast School Closures & Delays Road & Pass Conditions Weather Pix Dave Law's Fishing Report