According to the Seattle Police Department (SPD), on Thursday the Emerald City reached the grim milestone of 50 homicides. Over Labor Day weekend on Saturday morning, two adults and two children were found dead after a reported shooting and house fire and there were also two suspicious deaths on Sunday, one near a homeless encampment where neighbors reported hearing gunshots and one in a park.
There were 57 homicides in 2022, the most the city had seen in a quarter of a century, and there are still 4 months left to the 2023 year. At the current rate of 6.5 homicides a month, the city is on track to eclipse the 1994 all-time record of 69 homicides.
Homicides in Seattle jumped by 7 percent in the first half of 2023. Seattle was one of 10 cities to report an increase, with a percent change greater than that of New York at 4.9 percent, even as other cities saw a decline during the same time frame, according to the Council on Criminal Justice Crime Trend Mid Year Update. The number of homicides in Seattle increased by 63 percent between 2019 and 2020, which was more than New York at 43 percent or Chicago at 55 percent.
President for the Seattle Police Officers Guild (SPOG) Mike Solan told KOMO News, “They no longer fear the police because they understand that the police are literally handcuffed for being able to effectively do our jobs, so they’re emboldened."
Jim Fuda with Crime Stoppers Puget Sound blamed the spike in homicides on a shortage of police officers. SPD has lost nearly 600 officers since the Seattle City Council began defunding the department in 2020. Neighbors near the body found in proximity ot the encampment on Sunday reported hearing gunfire around 3 am, but officers weren’t dispatched until approximately 10 am, according to KOMO.
Fuda told the outlet that because of the shortage of officers, cases are piling up and not getting solved. “There’s people out there that think that they’re not going to get caught. I mean you see it in the robberies that are going on and even the children that are stealing cars and now the home invasion robberies are up."
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