Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and police union leaders alike argued for months that fewer officers will make Seattle less safe, but statistics released by the Seattle Police Department show crime is still dropping.
Ongoing protests against police brutality in the city have spurred accusations by SPD officials that mass demonstrations have prevented officers from responding to deadly shootings like those seen in the former Capitol Hill Protest Zone.
Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz marked his first day on the job last week reassigning 100 of the SPD’s special unit officers to the city’s 911 patrols to step up the city’s response times.
Crime of every kind tracked by SPD was down nearly 12% across the city through August in comparison to 2019 and 2018, but some statistical anomalies remain.
In June, when protests and unrest were at their peak in CHOP, crime across all categories dropped 14% from recent years across the precinct.
By August, crime in the area had declined by 4%, even around the SPD’s East Precinct, which includes Capitol Hill and the Central District.
SPD’s crime statistics are focused on a subset of the city’s crime categories ranging from burglary and car theft to assaults and robberies.
In Seattle in 2020, SPD-tracked core crimes were down, but only 8% compared to the 12% total for the across the board numbers.
In the East Precinct, core crimes climbed 12% through August in the East Precinct, according to SPD’s data.
Monthly trends of the Sea Stat numbers show that the climb in reported key crimes in the East Precinct was underway from the start of the year and actually returned closer to recent averages in June when CHOP was at its height.
Property damage such as vandalism and graffiti associated with Seattle’s protests did rise across the East Precinct near the city’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
SPD data show that reported property crimes were spread across both Capitol Hill and the Central District, particularly Capitol Hill’s northeast edge above I-5.
According to SPD data, most property crimes were located further down Capitol Hill from CHOP near downtown, not in the East Precinct including Cal Anderson.
Central Capitol Hill has seen the greatest number of violent crimes including homicides. Five homicides have been reported this year so far compared to six in all of 2019.
Last week, Durkan announced that she will begin laying off 70 SPD officers per the Seattle City Council’s approved budget cuts for 2020. That includes ending the Navigation Team, the city’s unit charged with clearing homeless camps by the end of the year.
The SPD remains embroiled in dozens of investigations into brutality allegations by the city’s Office of Police Accountability.
The office most recently deemed an SPD officer accused of spraying a 7-year-old child and his father in the face not guilty of malicious intent.
Durkan faces a petition recalling her from office, which remains under review by the Supreme Court of Washington. She is up for reelection next year.
In the meantime, the Seattle City Council will debate the 2021 city budget over the next eight weeks prior to their final November vote.
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