You may think life is peaceful here -- near the Columbia River.
It may not be as peaceful as you think.
“There’s been some activity here in the Tri-Cities that's been alarming,” said F.I.R.M.E. Founder Jesse Campos.
Jesse Campos works with F.I.R.M.E. -- a gang-resistance organization.
Police look to him as having a pulse on the gang situation. Jesse tells KEPR there are more than 1,500 documented gang members across Benton and Franklin Counties. Jesse warns activity is on the rise.
"Do I see a trend? Yes. Should I be alarmed? I believe so,” stated Campos.
“David” is alarmed. He didn’t even want to show his face. But he lives in a part of Kennewick where gang activity has been reported. The neighborhoods around Monopoly Park -- close to the fairgrounds.
“I’ve had people across the street fire guns. I've had people next to my house fire guns,” said “David.”
He’s hoping for a change.
"Peace. Tranquility,” explained “David.”
Jesse worries he might not get it. He knows of 20 gangs in Benton County -- 20 in Franklin County.
Yakima has 40 gangs itself.
“So, we can say that we're right up there with Yakima County and Yakima City,” added Campos.
It's also estimated about a third of inmates in the Benton County Jail are gang members. That's compared to more than half of the inmates in Yakima County.
We talked to police -- to see if the growing amount of graffiti is an indicator of trouble on the rise. Graffiti specifically blamed on gangs is down in Pasco and Kennewick -- up slightly in Richland. Officials say the decreased amount of gang taggings doesn't mean a decreased amount of gangs. They're alive and well -- and growing.
“Just because you don't see in front of you does not mean activity isn't happening behind closed doors,” said Campos.
And of all gang-group types, the FBI says "neighborhood gangs" pose the highest threat for terrorism.
That's ranked higher than motorcycle club gangs, prison gangs and national level gangs.