Higher property taxes could mean less gang activity

Higher property taxes could mean less gang activity
KENNEWICK, Wash. -- KEPR is always looking at the way your tax dollars are spent -- and we've learned property taxes could go up in Kennewick.

The money could be spent to fight gangs.

Josephine Lakey has lived in Kennewick for more than 20 years. Feeling safe is something she takes pride in. But just feeling safe isn't enough for her.

"I've always felt safe here, but I know they're having an awful lot of problems with the gangs," she says.

Gang activity is nothing new to our area -- but Kennewick PD has been staying on top of it.

It's why Kennewick is considering a hike to the property tax to pay for more gang officers.

The hike would be about 15-percent.

Taxes on a 150,000 dollar home would rise from 273 dollars to 320.

Josephine says it's worth it.

"I hate for my taxes to go up, but I know it had to be. Something has to happen, so I'm for it," she added.

It's been nearly a decade since Kennewick's criminal apprehension team was formed -- known as the CAT team.

The department has seen a significant decrease in the level of gang activity.

But experts have estimated the Tri-Cities has 30 gangs.

"Gang activity still occurs, there are still gang members here and we address it when we can, but it's not as blatant like it used to be. It's not so much in your face, it's much more underground," says Kennewick Corporal Todd Dronen.

He worked on the gang team.

He says the additional three officers will make a huge impact -- and it could put more people behind bars.

A recent stat found Benton County spent more than two-point-five million to house gang members behind bars in just one year.

Josephine wishes there was more being done to help people get on the straight and narrow.

"It's the first stage, but you need some back up after that to get people into some kind of counseling and not just throw them in jail and then throw them out of jail," she says.

The officers set to be added to the force are in the academy right now. They are expected to start sometime next year.