A new group, Citizens for Safe Communities, is seeking the new sales tax to provide more resources to battle gang and other criminal activity, you will get to vote on it later this year.

The group includes Steering Committee members Ken Hohenberg-Kennewick Police Chief, Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller, and Benton County Clerk Josie Delvin.  Honorary Committee Chairpersons include Bill McCurley - owner of the McCurley Automotive Dealerships, Bill Lampson - President of Lampson International, Prosser Mayor Paul Warden, Kris Watkins - President of Tri-Cities Visitor and Convention Bureau, and other leading public and business officials.

Over the last decade, according to the 2013 annual report, Kennewick's crimes-per-thousand rate has dropped from nearly 60 to 35.9.  That means for every 1,000 of the cities population of nearly 80,000, there are about 36 crimes committed of all types.

The reason for the tax, say supporters is to beef up gang-related enforcement activities.  In 2004, Kennewick created the CAT, or Criminal Apprehension Team, made up of several detectives and officers.   The unit has been extremely successful in fighting gang and drug activity and has made thousands of arrests in the last decade.

However, the team was created using resources drawn from other departments, and the city has not been able to fully replace those resources.   Prosecutor Miller says the new 3/10 of one percent tax would allow for additional prosecution efforts, especially in the area of gangs. According to the 2013 annual report, last year the CAT focused it's efforts on gangs because of increased such activity in the area.  That emphasis continues into 2014.

The sales tax would raise just over $1.9 million dollars annually to fund these criminal apprehension and judicial efforts.