Chief says ‘tough week’ for Des Moines Cops who backed Kent Police

By Jack Mayne

Des Moines Police Chief Ken Thomas said it had been a “tough week for the officers” in light of the early Sunday morning (July 22) tragedy when a Kent Police Officer was killed when another deputy’s car struck him during a pursuit near Reith Rd and Kent Des Moines Road.

Waterland Blog readers know that until recently Thomas was chief of the Kent Police. He was until he was fired by Kent Mayor Dana Ralph and almost immediately hired in Des Moines by City Manager Michael Matthias.

Des Moines officers were called to assist when Kent Officer Officer Diego Moreno was struck during a pursuit that involved a collision, and subsequently died of his injuries. Another pursuing officer was injured in the same incident and is undergoing treatment for serious injuries at Harborview Medical Center.

One dead, another injured
The suspect vehicle continued east on Kent Des Moines Road where it crashed near Washington Ave. Lifesaving efforts were immediately given to the injured officer; but he was pronounced dead at the scene. The other Kent officer “is struggling but he is going to get through it.” Thomas said the dead officer’s wife and his mother spent time in the hospital with the injured officer despite their tragedy.

A service for the deceased officer is slated for Tuesday, July 31 at the Kent Showare Center

Chief Thomas said the incident started in a Kent parking lot, where more than 39 empty shell casings were recovered.

Youth gun crime at issue
“Youth (gun) violence is really a significant issue in South King County,” the chief told the Des Moines Council.

“Our detectives in Des Moines are part of the Valley investigative team. They were all called out for that incident and it was the Des Moines detectives that were assigned to go out and track down and arrest and interview the suspects — the other suspects that go away the other night and I just can’t tell you how proud I am of our staff. It was our detectives that were given that critical, critical assignment and that very same day they were able to locate and take incriminating statements from the suspects which already has resulted in the driver being charged with murder for his part in that incident.”

Thomas said there is “no consequences for juveniles involved in gun violence. If you are caught in possesion of a firearm as a juvenile, you have to be convicted five times before you will even go to juvenile detention for more than just a few days.”

But a youth between the ages of 15 and 18 “to get caught and convicted five times is nearly impossible,” Thomas said.

Thomas was recently named the president of the board of the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs which is working with state legislators to solve the issue and procure financing for “a really credible evaluation system” so juveniles with guns who get caught can be helped.

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