Cleaning up crime in Yakima

Cleaning up crime in Yakima »Play Video
Dominic Rizzi, Jr., Yakima police chief (Action News photo)
YAKIMA, Wash. -- It's been six months since Dominic Rizzi became the new police chief. He said he was going to push for new ordinances and use the law to fight crime. Four months after we first spoke with him. KIMA sat down again to look at what's changed.

Half a year into the job and Yakima's Police Chief Dominic Rizzi started to settle in.

Reporter: "What's your favorite part about Yakima? The fruit the wine?"

Rizzi: "No actually, it's the scenery, the scenery it's just so beautiful."

Chief Rizzi hoped to make it more beautiful -- removing graffiti, gangs and other crime.

Reporter: "Talk to me about some of the changes you've made as far as ordinances or other legal changes"

Rizzi: "Well the first thing that, after talking to the City Manger about the graffiti ordinance making the victim a victim for a second time"

That meant homeowners faced a fine if they delayed on cleaning graffiti from their property. Now Yakima will clean it for you for free. And taggers will get jail time.

Rizzi: "They are getting locked up more frequently and therefore at some point there will be diminishing return that they are going to realize it's not worth the effort to do the graffiti "
Reporter: "It's not worth going to jail for some tagging"
Rizzi: "Exactly"
Reporter: "How many arrest have we had do you know?"
Rizzi: "I don't have the numbers on the arrest but I will tell you that just yesterday or the day before we locked up two individuals for doing graffiti."

Yakima also added a new law to keep gangs from hanging out in Yakima neighborhoods. It's called a nuisance-abatement ordinance. It punished property owners for allowing gangs to stay there.

Rizzi: "Kind of force that owner to police their own property."
Reporter: "And if they don't are we going to shut them down."
Rizzi: "If they refuse to comply ultimately that property could be seized."

Rizzi also worked to better use the laws already in place.

Rizzi: "We did make a change to where we are starting to go after the auto thieves at a local level and they get longer sentences."

Rizzi: "So instead of just arrested someone and booking them and sending them to court. We are looking at what is the best avenue to prosecutes them and there are a lot of times where we are going to get a better bang by going federally or municipal."

The Chief promised this is just the beginning of changes planned for Yakima.

Rizzi: "We are going to keep pushing and making noise for what's best for our city."