Police Chief Talks Gangs, Guns In Everett, WA

March 24, 2017

Everett, Police Blotter

With 19 “gun shots fired” calls between December 6th and March 15th in Everett, Police Chief Dan Templeman is expressing increasing concern over gang related crimes and gang involvement in shootings. On March 8th Templeman talked with the Everett City Council Public Safety Committee about what his department is doing in relation to gang activity. (You can see that presentation by clicking here, it begins at the 29:45 mark and runs about 15 minutes)

gun shots fired

Information provided by Everett Police. Click to enlarge.

On Thursday (3/23) Chief Templeman sat down with MyEverettNews.com to talk a bit more about gangs and guns in Everett. As you can see from the graphic provided by Everett Police there have been 19 “gun shots fired” calls between December 6th and March 15th. That includes two cases where people lost their lives to gunfire. One on Superbowl Sunday in south Everett and another on March 13th in north Everett. Neither of those cases are confirmed to be gang related and both remain open and under active investigation.

14 of the 19 cases did have some ties to gangs in Everett. “Obviously the vast majority of our youth in the Everett community are not involved in any of this kind of activity,” said Templeman. “I would say that it is a handful, a small group of individuals that are associated with these types of shootings and some of the other graffiti and maybe assaults and robberies that we have. It is not widespread among the youth population.”

When we asked where he thought the people involved were getting guns Templeman said he believes many of them are stolen from burglaries and vehicle prowls. “If you are a resident in Everett or anywhere, lock up and secure your firearms,” said Templeman. “Don’t leave a firearm in your vehicle…if you have a permit to carry a firearm it should be on your person.” Templeman continued. “There are way too many firearms in the hands of the wrong people. There’s absolutely no reason why a 15-year-old should be running around with a firearm period. There just isn’t.”

Templeman also mentioned that his department was working with prosecutors and others at Denny Youth Center to make sure that those who may be a violent risk can be held in custody instead of being released. Simple possession of a pistol by a 15-year-old for example may not meet the threshold for incarceration. Actual use of that gun however would be grounds for immediate booking. Templeman says he is a big believer in rehabilitation and keeping people who are not repeating criminal behavior out of the criminal justice system but individuals that continue to jeopardize public safety need to be incarcerated. “We are all working on doing our jobs together to keep innocent people from being hurt,” said Templeman. “All to avoid this handful of individuals who are putting our community at extreme risk.”

Templeman says that when it comes to gangs and shootings it is very hard to get cooperation. Even from people who have been injured. Fear plays a part as does loyalty among the group. Even people who may not be involved in the gang activity itself, maybe their house or vehicle has been hit by gunfire can be reluctant to say much for fear of retaliation.

Templeman mentioned his department has several tools to use in combating gang crime including the chronic nuisance ordinance to put pressure on property owners to not allow conduct that is harming a neighborhood. Also increased overt and covert patrols, power cars, use of special units to concentrate in known trouble areas and even school resource officers in the middle and high schools. Templeman says while those tools may help, the real focus has to be upstream.

“Holding those accountable today to the fullest extent of the law is fine but just for today,” said Templeman. “But for a better tomorrow I come back to community, to family, to parents being involved in their kids lives…families being engaged and aware, positive role models including those outside of the family and community involvement with a choice of programs are just three ways to build a positive environment for kids.”

As far as gangs go Templeman says that as a police officer it is the conduct that is being engaged in which is most important.

“The label of whether its gang related or that the suspect is a confirmed gang member is less important to us than the conduct they’re engaged in,” Templeman said. “We’re always going to focus on the conduct and not on the label.” But he added, “We can’t lose sight of what is motivating them to engage in this and is there something we can do from the law enforcement and criminal justice system to make gang involvement the least attractive option.”

Finite resources can be an issue for Everett Police. The department has been under approved staffing levels for the last few years in spite of having hired more than 40 officers. Currently there are 18 unfilled positions with more retirements expected. Later this spring the department will undergo a review of hiring practices to see if they can fill in more of the available positions in a quicker time frame.

In spite of that, Templeman says it is important for the people in Everett to know that progress is being made, arrests are being made and overall Everett is a very safe place to live. Officers are flexible in moving from one assignment to another from gangs to drugs to homelessness and mental health. All issues that lead to multiple types of crime impacting Everett.

“I’ve got an amazing staff that gets it,” said Templeman. “We move resources all the time as we work to be nimble and responsive so that we can use our resources in the best way possible to make the most significant impact.”

If you are interested in learning more about gang recognition you can check out this article from the Everett Police Department’s crime prevention page.


About myeverettnews

My Everett News is a hyperlocal news website featuring breaking news and events in Everett, WA. We also cover City of Everett information and items of interest to those who live and work in Everett. It's written by Leland Dart a former Snohomish County based radio reporter born and raised in Everett.

View all posts by myeverettnews