A single-day roundup of “gang involved” fugitives in the Tri-Cities netted 27 arrests, including two teen offenders, officials said.
Among all those arrested during the latest gang sweep in the area, there were 14 felony charges and 23 misdemeanor offenses, said Kennewick police Chief Ken Hohenberg.
“The theme today is going to be about accountability,” Hohenberg said Friday as he announced the results of Wednesday’s joint operation. “We know as long as we have people out there in gangs running around … it puts people in the Tri-City community at risk.”
Pasco police Chief Bob Metzger and Richland police Capt. Mike Cobb joined Hohenberg at the Kennewick police station to discuss gang activity in the community.
Metzger attributed the success of the sweep and daily efforts to keep the heat on criminal gang activity to cooperation among law enforcement agencies in the region.
“Our message to gang members is: We’re better organized than you are. We’re going to come after you,” Metzger said.
Agencies involved in the gang roundup included the Kennewick, Richland and Pasco police departments, Benton County and Franklin County sheriff’s offices, Homeland Security, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. marshals and state Department of Corrections.
Kennewick has seen an increase in gang violence and weapon offenses this year, Hohenberg said. Through October, officers responded to 36 gang incidents involving weapons or violence, compared with 17 for all of last year, he said.
There’s also been an increase in gang members carrying guns, he said. Last year, Kennewick officers responded to five gun-related gang incidents, but that number has jumped to 18 already this year.
“These are people out on the street packing weapons,” he said. “The problem we’re very, very concerned about is innocent parties being hurt.”
Other weapons used in gang-related incidents that have been seized by officers include knives, bats, bottles and brass knuckles.
Gun violence and the increase in gangs is a national issue and what’s happening in the Tri-Cities is a “snapshot of what’s happening across the country,” Metzger said.
Though Kennewick has seen an increase in gang crime, Pasco’s numbers have been fairly even, Metzger said.
Tri-City law enforcement officials also have been working with police officials in Yakima, Walla Walla and Hermiston, Ore., to address gang issues across the region.