Inslee visits Yakima to discuss gun violence issue

Governor Jay Inslee stopped in Yakima today to discuss the issue of gun violence in the community. He said the state needs to be part of an aggressive plan to fight violence in the valley.

He met with law enforcement, state officials, local non-profits and families in a closed-door session to learn about possible solutions and ways to support those impacted.

“When you look at the numbers, they’re just shocking to see you know 20 homicides already in a community this size is truly shocking,” Inslee said. “You just can’t overstate on a per-capita basis how much violence that has been in this community.”

There have been at least 20 fatal shootings in the county this year alone. Inslee said he spoke to 16-year-old David Martinez’s parents. Martinez was shot and killed in Yakima on Easter Sunday.

“That was just heart-rending, as a parent raising kids in the valley, to see a child end up a victim of gun violence through no fault of his own is just heart-rending,” said Inslee.

He said he’ll take stories like Martinez’s back to legislators.

“As a person who lived here for almost two decades, I take this personally. This is like a home town to me, and to see this is very, very disturbing,” said Inslee.

He said he was impressed by the efforts already going on in the valley to combat gang-related violence.

“I talked to Chevy who runs the Love Project, that’s getting kids involved in activities, so they can try to get them away from the gang world,” said Inslee.

He said the law enforcement community expressed the need for preventative measures, along with additional law enforcement efforts.

“Everything we do to help young people helps reduce gang violence,” said Inslee.

Inslee said one main takeaway from the meeting was the need for law enforcement, schools and community organizations to work together on prevention and intervention programs.

Inslee said that he proposed spending $11 million statewide on law enforcement and prevention programs in the last legislative session, but legislators only approved about $1 million. He said he’ll push for more funding to combat the issue of gun and gang related violence in this session. He said he hopes legislators can find some way to help the valley.

“I hope they’ll follow my lead because I do believe we need a comprehensive approach. The schools have to be involved in this, non-profits have to be involved in this, law enforcement, all of us have to be involved in this effort,” said Inslee.