Renton Police Chief sounds alarm on concerning spike in teen crime

In his nearly three decades with the Renton Police Department, Chief Jon Schuldt has never seen crime involving teens happen at this magnitude, and he’s concerned. 

"It almost feels like we’re failing a segment of this population," Schuldt said. "We have a generation out there that it seems like there’s no recourse or consequences for what they’re doing."

He adds, it’s ultimately making our communities less safe. Just last week, several teenagers recklessly drove into oncoming traffic in a stolen car after threatening even younger kids with a gun. Then on Wednesday, police arrested five minors in connection to an armed carjacking. They appeared before a judge on Thursday.


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On Wednesday, Renton Police said a group of kids with guns terrorized South King County in a multi-city crime spree.

Schuldt, along with the officers who arrested the teens, were in court for that hearing. They wanted to see how it played out. Renton Police shared a graph with FOX 13 showing crime trends involving teens from 2019 to 2023. Most crimes grew significantly from 2022 to 2023, according to the graph data. 

Juvenile suspect Trends

So, what is behind the increase in these crimes?

It stems from a lack of accountability, and without that accountability, the teens committing these crimes are getting more brazen, according to Schuldt. 

"It’s almost a revolving door," Schuldt said.

The concern is there, but it comes as recent talks surrounded a plan to close the Clark Children and Family Justice Center and replace it with a ‘no locks, no cells’ policy. No final decision has been made on this yet, according to the King County Law and Justice Committee. They told the public in March that there are still a lot of questions that they’ve highlighted, and the goal is to continue the conversation on this and engagement. 


'No locks, no cells' approach in youth detention expected by 2028

King County Executive Dow Constantine is pushing for a groundbreaking change in the juvenile justice system: the abolition of detention centers for teenagers by 2028. However, the path to achieving this ambitious goal is riddled with questions about its feasibility and what the alternative would entail.

"The police department and law enforcement are one piece, the prosecutor is another piece of it, the judiciary, so if we could all work together and come up with solutions to hold them accountable and get them the resources they need," Schuldt said.

He also told FOX 13, they also need the help of the community and the judicial system, as well as the state. If you want to help, Schuldt recommends contacting your elected representatives and let them know this is a priority.


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