According to the Council on Criminal Justice Crime Trend Mid Year Update, homicides in the Emerald City rose by 7 percent in the first half of 2023; it 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.
If the trend continues, Seattle is on track to beat last year’s record homicide rate.
Between 2019 and 2020, the number of homicides in Seattle increased by 63 percent, which is more than New York at 43 percent or Chicago at 55 percent.
Violence in the city continues to grow. Over the weekend, four people were shot during an illegal street racing event near Capitol Hill, and one person was stabbed at a South Seattle light rail station.
Vehicle thefts have also spiked 17 percent in Seattle during the first half of 2023. Between 2019 and the end of 2022, auto thefts in Washington increased by 31 percent.
In 2022, Washington was ranked the third highest in the nation for auto thefts.
Crime has continued to spike in the Emerald City following the city council defunding the police in response to the George Floyd riots that rocked Seattle. Close to 600 officers have left the department. According to the Council on Criminal Justice, "Violent crimes remain elevated compared to 2019, the year prior to the COVID pandemic and racial justice protests of 2020."
Additionally, police remain unable to chase after stolen vehicles in the Evergreen State thanks to police “reforms” passed by the Democratic control state legislature that banned many forms of pursuits. Suspects fleeing police spiked by the thousands following the passage of the original bill, with one criminal even calling 911 to cite the legislation in telling police to stop pursuing him.
The legislation has been blamed for deaths including 12-year-old Immaculee Goldade who was walking home after playing outside the school with a friend, Kathleen Olson, also 12, when a stolen truck hit the girls.
Earlier this year, in response to the legislation, The Seattle Police Department was ordered by Chief Adrian Diaz to no longer engage in any pursuits.
Despite spikes in crime, including homicides, the Washington Department of Corrections (DOC) is taking a victory lap on closing prisons with DOC Secretary Cheryl Strange crowing that the state has “one of the lowest rates of incarceration in the nation” due to having “worked diligently to lower recidivism rates, create better neighbors and ensure that incarcerated individuals don’t return to us once they get out.”
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