White Center Residents Turn Out To Discuss Next Steps In Anti-Gang Efforts

by Ralph Nichols

Law enforcement can do only so much to stop gang activity, U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Jenny A. Durkan noted at a meeting of community residents in White Center Monday night (Oct. 24).

The rest of gang prevention depends on “boots on the ground. That’s you,” Durkan told the more than 100 persons crowded into a meeting room in the Jim Wiley Community Center at Greenbridge.

“A sustained commitment will be what does it,” and that “will have to come from this room, she said.

The meeting was organized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to inform and involve residents after Friday’s announcement that 53 repeat offenders, drugs and guns were removed from the streets last week, ending an undercover operation focusing on violent crime in the White Center area.

King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg, whose father practiced law in White Center, agreed. “People are here to live and raise their families,” he said. The cooperative law enforcement effort was “remarkable, but it was just the first step.”

“We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t believe White Center has every building block it needs to become a vibrant, healthy community,” Durkan added.

In addition to Durkan and Satterberg, public officials participating in the special meeting were King County Sheriff Sue Rahr; King County Councilman Joe McDermott, whose 8th District includes North Highline; Sheriff’s Office West Precinct Commander and SeaTac Police Chief James G. Graddon; 34th District State Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon; and Gail Stone, the law and justice policy advisor to King County Executive Dow Constantine, who was unable to attend.

A White Center resident later asked what individuals can do when they live next door to a drug house because “there is a lack of police response.”

“That is the elephant in the room,” Rahr said. “Our resources in this state are net set up for unincorporated urban areas. There are not enough resources” to respond to every individual drug house.

But, Rahr noted, White Center again has a storefront deputy –Benjamin (BJ) Myers. “He can triage to see where we can put our scarce resources.”

Durkan said “I urge you, if a drug house is next to you, call it in again and again. It gets the attention of law enforcement.”

A full report on the meet will be posted soon.

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