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Seattle police release report to City Council showing troubling crime trends

Seattle City Council members heard a presentation about crime and the loss of police officers.Thumbnail
Seattle City Council members heard a presentation about crime and the loss of police officers.Thumbnail
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The top brass from the Seattle Police Department on Tuesday presented a 12-page report to the Seattle City Council that depicted troubling crime trends in the city.

Between 2020 and 2021, overall crime is up 10 percent, violent crime has increased 20 percent and property crimes are up 9 percent, according to the information shared with the council.

The largest increase in property theft is motor vehicle parts and accessories like catalytic converters, up 79 percent.

The violent crime rate reached a 14-year high in 2021, shootings and shots fired calls are up 40 percent.

“This year our trends are already not in a good place,” Interim Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz said.

When compared to 2021, new staffing projections shared by the Seattle Police Department showed that total staffing growth will remain flat by the end of 2022 with around 1,137 total officers. However of those total officers, there is some growth projected in the amount who could be put on the streets.

KOMO News reported in January that 20 police officers had already left and only five had been hired, creating a sizable replacement gap.

City Council officials project that most of those departures will be related to the city's COVID vaccine mandate.

Council member Lisa Herbold said Seattle could explore adding incentives to bring in more cops.

"I am supportive of a bonus incentive program to recruit officers," she said. "I need to see that within the context of the other city departments and the needs of those departments (and) as it relates to retention programs, we have discussed the idea of a retention program."

For those needing help, response times by police have also reached their highest points in 10 years.

Mayor Harrell and city leaders have already said the department is down 350 officers.

That has also raised concern among some on the council.

“I continue to be alarmed by the lower staffing levels at our police department,” City Councilman Alex Pedersen said.

SPD wants to hire 100 new officers a year for the next five years to build up staffing.

The data also reflects community concerns, which said 21 percent say thefts and burglaries are their top concerns.

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These are tied with homelessness (21%) and followed by policing issues (20%).

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