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Yakima city council addresses gang violence with police

City council members address Yakima...

YAKIMA, Wash. - City leaders looked for ways to get rid of the gang violence on the streets of Yakima Friday.

Yakima City Council members met with law enforcement officials to gain insight on how they can help police combat the ongoing issue.

The increased gang related shootings and robberies in Yakima have also been putting the whole community on edge.

"Almost all of the time I don't want to walk alone, and I never want to be in the dark,” Yakima resident Mary Lopez said.

The continued street violence and homicides are also beginning to take a toll on everyday life for mothers and residents like Mary Lopez.

"You're not focused a hundred percent of the time in your job because you are always thinking about your kids," Lopez continued.

With roughly over 500 gang members in Yakima law enforcement asked for extra assistance, where it's most essential in Friday’s meeting with council.

"We need to have officers out there to actually confront them while they're engaging in criminal activity so with that it takes a lot of man power," Yakima Police Chief, Dominic Rizzi said.

According to Chief Rizzi over 75% percent of the annual police budget is being dedicated towards officers and now with the increased patrol time costing the department anywhere from five to ten thousand dollars a day, the budget is only getting tighter.

"Our overtime budget will be expended before the end of the year," Chief Rizzi added.

Rizzi and Yakima City Managers are now asking for roughly $360,000 dollars over a two year period in order to keep up with patrol, and prevention programs.

Sustaining pay for current officers is already difficult within the current budget.

Rizzi  and city leaders are now searching for ways to pay for more enforcement.

"Looking at the state, county, city or even federal government for what we can even get to increase our man power," Rizzi continued.

The money would have to come from the state general fund and police understand the burden this holds.

"That’s a big financial hit on the city," Rizzi said.

However, for mothers like Lopez it's a small cost for safety in a place she calls home.

"It's a really good idea and that’s a very practical way to do it," Resident Lopez concluded.

Yakima city council wants to make sure funding will help ensure the safety for everyone in Yakima and the lower valley communities, but did not open up the panel to the public for comments Friday.

As of now the city will continue to work with law enforcement on a future plan of action going forward.


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