Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla. COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Kent Police

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla. COURTESY FILE PHOTO, Kent Police

Kent Police chief believes new carjacking task force will reduce crime

Kent will play key role in efforts by U.S. Department of Justice to combat carjacking

Kent Police Chief Rafael Padilla says a new Western Washington Carjacking Task Force formed by the U.S. Department of Justice could help reduce crime in the region.

“I believe the task force has the potential to reduce carjacking and related violent crime in our area,” Padilla said in an April 19 email. “I am certain, we are going to locate and arrest violent offenders. What must follow our efforts is aggressive prosecution, effective jail sentences from our courts and assured incarceration in our King County jails.”

U.S. Attorney Tessa M. Gorman announced the new task force April 18. She said the Seattle-based Western District of Washington is one of seven districts across the nation that are adding a carjacking task force to focus efforts and resources on this important public safety threat.

The Seattle and Kent police departments will play keys role in the task force due to their number of carjackings and current cases.

“The Carjacking Task Force represents our efforts to do all we can to reduce violent crime in Kent and the greater Seattle region,” Padilla said. “We are in the initial build-up of the task force, but I expect this effort will enhance our ability to get violent offenders off the streets; and by doing so, save lives.”

Padilla said the task force will focus on bringing additional resources and support to local jurisdictions like Kent.

“Our detectives are very good at identifying, locating, and arresting violent criminals,” Padilla said. “The task force will bring broader forensic evidence data analysis, crime incident data analysis, and intelligence sharing that we anticipate will elevate our ability to solve our cases and take violent criminals off the streets.

“At the same time, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has committed to giving these cases priority consideration for prosecution through federal court. Additionally, the enhanced coordination amongst the task force members, will improve our ability to connect cases that involve serial offenders who commit crimes in multiple jurisdictions.”

Padilla looks forward to the continued partnership.

“We have fostered and maintain strong partnerships with our federal law enforcement partners, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office for years,” he said. “Coordinating resources to address the violent crime in our region is not something new for us. We all understand that crime is regional and it’s vital that the law enforcement community is working together in a way that results in decreased crime in our cities.”

Padilla said Kent officers will be dedicated to the task force, but at this time the details about how many will be involved remains to be worked out.

”We do not anticipate this effort will result in any additional funding needs,” Padilla said. “The task force will be bringing assistance to the Kent detectives already working these cases.”

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