Analyst's work pays off for Kent’s police force


Debra LeRoy sits in the game room at the Kent Parks Community Center Jan. 28.

Debra LeRoy sits in the game room at the Kent Parks Community Center Jan. 28.

Without the hard work of Debra LeRoy, the Kent Police Department could not have started its Weed and Seed program that focuses on high-crime areas on the East Hill.

In fact, numerous Kent Police programs exist because of LeRoy, a research and development analyst for the police department.

“Debra epitomizes diligent and hard work on behalf of the taxpayers every day,” Kent Police Chief Steve Strachan said. “She’s always looking for grant opportunities to leverage dollars for better services.”

LeRoy, who started work for the city in 1987 as a police records specialist, now spends much of her time as a grant writer. She has brought in at least $4 million in grants and programs to the city in the last several years, Strachan said.

“She never says why we can’t do this, but says ‘let’s find a way to get this done,’” Strachan said. “It’s not just finding grants. But she administers the grants and monitors the programs.”

Strachan presented LeRoy with the Chief’s Award for Distinguished Service at a City Council meeting last fall because of her exemplary level of work over several years.

“The Weed and Seed program we could not have started without your hard work,” Councilwoman Elizabeth Albertson told LeRoy at the meeting.

To get federal money for the Weed and Seed program, the city first needed to demonstrate that the East Hill corridor from Southeast 240th Street to Southeast 277th Street and from 94th Avenue South to 116th Avenue South suffered from violent crimes, drug abuse and gang activity.

Then the city formed a Weed and Seed steering committee with representatives from neighborhoods, churches and businesses in order to apply for a grant from the federal Department of Justice. The city also needed a community center and worked out an agreement with the Kent School District to open a youth center at the Kent Phoenix Academy.

“I like the variety and I really enjoy working with stakeholders to put together a project and see it succeed,” LeRoy said during an interview this week at her desk at the police station. “I’ve found my niche here. I enjoy serving the public.”

Other police programs that received funds through LeRoy’s help include the annual youth conference Game of Life; liquor-control compliance checks at local businesses; bicycle patrols; and substance-abuse treatment programs at the city jail.

Councilman Ron Harmon said he enjoys it every time he sees LeRoy at a city Public Safety committee meeting.

“It’s a thrill whenever you come to a public safety meeting because when you show up I know there’s money coming in,” Harmon told LeRoy after she received the chief’s award.

LeRoy, who grew up in Renton, joined the Kent Police as a records specialist after a property-management job ended. She worked about five years as a records specialist and five years as a records supervisor before taking on her current job in 1998.

LeRoy earned a business administration degree from the University of Washington and then went on to a master’s degree in public administration from Seattle University. She focused on written communication skills at the UW and took a grant-writing class at Seattle University.

She also keeps her grant-writing skills sharp by attending workshops regularly.

As critical as it has been to the operations of her department, the grant-writing element of her job didn’t happen overnight. Rather, LeRoy gradually learned the ropes of how to successfully apply for government funding, and to represent her department’s projects to outside agencies for assistance.

“It was kind of trial and error at first,” she admitted.

Outside of work, LeRoy lives in Renton with her husband, Ken LeRoy, who works for Foss Tug in Seattle. They have been married 27 years. They own a 34-foot yacht and enjoy trips to the Gulf Islands in the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the mainland Pacific coast of British Columbia.

Once LeRoy retires from the police department, she plans to run for the Renton City Council.

“I want to stay involved in local city government,” LeRoy said.

LeRoy also has served several two-year terms as president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 2617 union that represents nearly 150 city of Kent employees. Her most recent term ended in December. She said she does not plan to be president again.

Meanwhile, LeRoy stays plenty busy trying to find more grant money for her department.

“It’s a lot of work, but she doesn’t view it as just a job,” Strachan said. “She’s truly involved and connected to programs such as the Weed and Seed program as an alternative to kids to help keep them out of gangs.”

Talk to us

Please share your story tips by emailing

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) Please keep letters to 300 words or less.

More in News

Former Kent School District bus driver accused of raping student

Renton man, 39, reportedly sexually assaulted 11-year-old girl multiple times on bus

Kent Police investigate death of man found near railroad tracks

Found Sunday afternoon, April 21 in the 1000 block of First Avenue North

Asylum seekers, supporters ask Kent City Council for housing help

They want Econo Lodge on Central Avenue reopened; Kent, King County have no plans to do so

King County SWAT vehicle. Courtesy photo
Investigation concludes on SWAT team's fatal shooting of suspect in Algona

A multi-agency team has finished investigating the King County SWAT’s shooting of… Continue reading

A screenshot of the King County Sheriff’s Office Guardian One helicopter view of the arrest of a Kent man after carjacking incidents Feb. 13 in Kent. COURTESY IMAGE, King County Sheriff’s Office
Kent Police to join new Western Washington Carjacking Task Force

U.S. Department of Justice announces Seattle, Kent police departments as partners to reduce crime

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla and his command staff will host a community meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Thursday, May 9 at Highline College. COURTESY PHOTO, Kent Police
Kent Police set community meeting for May 9 at Highline College

Topics to include latest news, updates from Police Chief Rafael Padilla and his command staff

Sound Transit constructing giant bridge in Kent for light rail

Structure along I-5 stretches more than three football fields in length

Medical examiner identifies Kent man killed while lying in street

Tony Vento Houston, 63, died of multiple blunt force injuries after vehicle hit him

Kent historian, master gardener Nancy Simpson dies at age 80

Roles included Greater Kent Historical Society president; King County Landmarks commissioner

Kent man dies after collision with vehicle while lying in the street

Incident at about 4:06 a.m. Tuesday, April 16 at 132nd Avenue SE and SE 278th Street

Kent Police to offer teen academy for students in June

For high school students interested in law enforcement career

Madeline Goldsmith. COURTESY PHOTO
No suspect yet in July 2023 Kent murder of Madeline Goldsmith

Someone fatally shot 18-year-old Kentwood High graduate as she sat in vehicle near Lake Meridian