"We need to find out" Tri-Cities mother creates Facebook page after surge in violence – YakTriNews KAPP-KVEW | Wonder Mind Kids

KENNEWICK, Wash. — Jennifer Humphries wants you to know one thing about her.

“Some people came up to me and said, ‘You’re acting like you’re perfect and your family is perfect.’ No, we’re a hot mess too,” she laughed.

Kennewick’s mother is the voice behind the Blue Bridge Project. It’s a Facebook page she created to bridge the gap between community members and the police and prevent violence in the Tri-Cities.

Humphries said she was propelled to launch the site after October 15, when two teenagers were fatally shot in Kennewick, just hours in a row. 18-year-old Jatzivy Sarabia was shot while riding in a car and 17-year-old Elias Salazar was shot in another situation, a 14-year-old has been charged in his death.

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“So I’m kind of surrounded by it and I just started thinking, ‘What can we do about it?'”

On the Blue Bridge Project, Jennifer has posted the images of Tri-Cities residents lost to murder, addiction, suicide and survivors of violent situations. She wants to start the conversation about what has happened to innocent people across the community and how crime affects generations of families.

But Humphries wasn’t always so inspired to create change.

Years ago, she battled drug addiction, which brought her into the criminal justice system.

“I’ve been clean for years now, but my husband has been in and out of recovery. It’s very close to me, and I’ve had to raise my kids in an environment where he’s not always available,” Humphries said.

Eventually, in the early 2000s, she reached a point where she wanted out of the addiction and was leaning on her faith in God to help her through it.

Humphries believes that to prevent violence, particularly among youth, and gang involvement, there must be accountability in the home. But that can be difficult if the parents themselves don’t have a clean record.

“People get clean, and they get their jobs, and they get their kids back, and then there’s still a gap between, ‘How do I raise my kids now that there’s been trauma? How do I become an authority when I’ve never respected authority?” Humphries said parents and guardians had to turn to community resources for help.

She would also like to see more programs to help parents after they have served time in jail or in prison.

Kennewick Police Sergeant Chris Littrell has similar thoughts to Jennifer’s.

“I’ve heard a number of gang members over the years ask why did you join the gang life? And they’ve told me many times that my parents don’t take care of me,” Littrell said.

Kennewick has had 11 homicides so far this year. Littrell recalls a time when that number was much lower.

“In my early days, I was a detective there for four years, and yes, there were years where we had zero or just a couple of homicides in our town, and that was kind of our norm,” he said.

Littrell said he’s noticed crime rates in the Tri-Cities go up and down. He said rates are also affected by what’s happening in the community around us, like the COVID-19 pandemic. The sergeant said it caused a lot of anxiety and made people think with their emotional brain, not rationally.

While police may be part of Littrell’s life’s work, he’s also a father to four daughters, so he knows a thing or two about parenting.

“Our kids need boundaries, our kids need consequences, both positive and negative consequences for their behavior,” but he recognizes that’s not everyone’s reality, “well, that’s really hard sometimes when you’re a single parent and you’re working as a couple Jobs, and you’re trying to keep your kid out of gang life, don’t be afraid to ask for help.”

“When they’re struggling with their child, they have to be responsible enough to say, ‘I’m overwhelmed, I need help,'” Jennifer added.

Littrell also advised parents to get their children and teens involved in healthy activities such as sports, music, organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, or religious organizations.

He said it’s also important to have tough conversations with your kids and build mutual respect.

Humphries said she’s just getting started on the Blue Bridge Project. In the future she hopes for meetings and other events.

“We need to let people know that no matter what their child did, whether they pulled the trigger or took drugs, and whichever side of the gun they were on, they have a family who loves them and it’s about time that we really do find answers, but the answer is just don’t blame each other, if someone needs help, help them. We don’t need lines in the sand anymore, we need to come together, we need to figure this out, we need to look in the mirror and do what’s best for our kids. I know it’s never going to end and we can’t solve every problem, but I can’t go to bed at night and I know I haven’t at least tried.”

The Blue Bridge Project can be found here. Sergeant Littrell said the Kennewick Police Department is happy to attend community events or even neighborhood barbecues. You can always email them to invite them.

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