EVERETT — The Everett Police Department is set to launch a firearm safety campaign in June, including the distribution of free gun locks.
The campaign is part of the mayor’s directive on reducing gang and youth violence. A gang unit also is in the works, Police Chief Dan Templeman said.
The directive was the first of five executive orders issued since Cassie Franklin took office in January. April 6 marked an early round of reporting back on gang and youth violence. Since then, there have been two shootings in town, one on Oakes Avenue and another on Beverly Lane.
“We are still reviewing both of those cases,” the chief said. “They are still active investigations, and we have not yet determined whether they were gang-related.”
Templeman says the department is on track with the directive.
Compared to this time last year, gunfire is down, including driveby shootings, he said. However, he’s hesitant to draw conclusions. Everett’s gang activity is cyclical. It tends to rise in the summer, when school’s out. It drops again as those involved age out, get locked up or lose their lives.
Still, the violence spills over, and it’s not just gang members who become victims.
David Sandoval was 14 and a freshman at Mariner High School. He was shot to death Oct. 4 over the color of his shoes. His killer was a 13-year-old who told people he aspired to be called “lil shoota.” He used a handgun taken from a 12-year-old.
The boy had told others, “If you hear I’m in jail, don’t be surprised. I’m gonna shoot people,” deputy prosecutor Jennifer DeJong said in documents filed in the juvenile division of Snohomish County Superior Court.
Under a negotiated agreement, the teen pleaded guilty in January to second-degree murder and also being a minor in possession of a firearm.
Judge George Bowden found a standard juvenile sentence was not appropriate. With support from lawyers on both sides, he ordered the boy kept in detention until he is 19, and also stipulated that he remain under court supervision until he is 21.
Sandoval’s death has been a factor in Franklin’s policy-making.
The primary focus is on prevention and intervention, along with enforcement, Templeman said. He compared the efforts to those combating opioid abuse — treating causes and not just symptoms.
The department has identified 16 local businesses licensed to sell firearms, including pawn shops, according to the chief’s recent report to the mayor. The Herald obtained a copy of the document as a public record.
The city is seeking to have “informational safety packets” provided at every firearm sale in Everett. The packets encourage responsible storage: Many firearms used by young people in crimes have been swiped from cars and dressers.
In recent weeks, the department has reached out to the businesses “and received a very positive response,” Templeman wrote. “There are plans to reach out to additional partners in close proximity to the city in the near future.”
The city also expects to seek sponsors for the campaign.
In addition to the gun locks program, Templeman hopes to see the gang unit in place by summer. Those assignments are influenced by staffing levels, including retirements, he said.
Another specialty team, with a sergeant and four officers, has been working on gangs nearly full time for the past year, Templeman said. Separately, there are officers routinely out walking around and talking with folks on Casino Road.
Under the directive, an advisory group was appointed on the gangs issue in February and has been meeting regularly, drawing input from nonprofits, schools and other groups.
In addition, the police are paying attention to the ongoing Casino Road Initiative, within the Community Foundation of Snohomish County. The initiative seeks to create a new neighborhood community center.
Gang activity is reported throughout Everett and into neighboring jurisdictions, with about 10 percent occurring along a mile-long stretch of W. Casino Road, data show.
Community groups with programs in south Everett, including schools, nonprofits and churches, routinely make gang prevention part of their conversations. A Boys & Girls Club fundraising pitch earlier this week referenced “daily struggles with gang violence” on Casino Road.
In early 2017, Templeman also had talked about bringing together police, juvenile justice officials, prosecutors and public defenders on related issues. Franklin touched on that idea in her directive. She has requested a report on that front by late May, acknowledging that results could take several years.
Reporter Scott North contributed to this story.
The Everett Public Library plans a free presentation, “Gangs 101: A Snohomish County Overview,” at 6 p.m. May 15 at the downtown branch.
Detective Jeff Nevin is the speaker.
More info: 425-257-7640