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The results of the "Defund the Police" movement are in and they are devastatingly bad. Across the US in 2020, major cities reported significant increases in homicides and shots fired. Murder increased 36 percent in 2020, compared to 2019 across the country.
In Seattle, those numbers are worse. The Emerald City ended 2020 with 50 people who were willfully murdered, according to the Seattle Police Department (SPD), compared with 2019 where 31 individuals were killed. According to the FBI, the number of homicides in the city was even higher.
Using the SPD crime dashboard numbers, that is almost double the number of murders in 2019. This was the highest number of murders in the city in 26 years. Seattle passed the 2019 high during the height of the civil unrest in the city in the summer of 2020. This corresponds to SPD being at the lowest deployable level of officers they have been at since the 1990's, while the city has double in population size during the same period.
According to SPD, most of the victims were males between the ages of 18-29 and 30-49, and 49 percent of them were black. Two of those victims were teenagers killed in the Capitol Hill "Autonomous Zone."
Seattle Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz said during a press conference on Monday, "This is unacceptable. We cannot tolerate this level of violence." The Seattle City Council believes they can, having further defunded the Seattle police an additional 18 percent.
The council has been replacing specialty SPD units with social workers as part of the defunding. A social worker was murdered by one of her homeless clients, the day the council voted to defund SPD by another 18%.
"I’m not going to go into the multiple theories I’m aware of for why we and other cities had such a large one-year increase. There’s no one clear explanation," Chief Diaz said. "But I do know the department is working to decrease the violence."
Diaz also noted a drop in 911 calls and a decrease other reported crime categories. Many attribute that to Seattlites no longer reporting crimes because of slow police response times, if they show at all.
These slow to no response times are due to hundreds of officers leaving the force. Additionally, residents have expressed on neighborhood groups like Nextdoor, Ring and other neighborhood apps that there is no point in calling the police because they don’t expect anything will be done.
"As we all know, 2020 was a year like no other," Diaz said. "We know, both because of COVID and other events, that the number of 911 calls dropped throughout most of the year. Due to the pandemic, we all changed our behaviors. Stores closed. People stopped going to their places of work. Bars and restaurants were severely restricted."
Diaz added, "So telling you that certain reported crimes are up or down compared to 2019, I believe has less meaning this year than any other."