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Mayor Jenny Durkan: Crime is up in certain Seattle neighborhoods

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. (KIRO 7)

Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan said Tuesday that despite some officials saying that crime is down citywide, certain types of crime is up in areas of the city.

“Crime is up,” Durkan said. “Particularly, certain types of crimes are up in certain neighborhoods. That’s why we did our seven emphasis areas, and in those areas we could see from the data and from talking with people, that crime was up in those areas.”

The mayor was short on exactly which crimes were up and where. Durkan said that it is too early to get any data from the seven emphasis areas, where police increased their presence this month to counter crime. The city is taking the first 30 days of the emphasis program to assess results. The emphases will continue into June. She also said there are currently ongoing criminal investigations in all parts of the city.

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The emphasis areas include downtown Seattle along the Third and Pike corridor, Pioneer Square, SoDo, Georgetown, South Park, Fremont, and Ballard. The mayor did say that calls to 911 have dropped in those neighborhoods since the patrols began. Proactive policing, however, has risen at the same time.

Durkan said that numbers show that arrests and prosecutions have been heavily skewed toward property crime, despite public sentiment that argues the opposite.

“A number of property crimes are reported and that is one of the things we use to determine where to add those emphasis areas and see whether that helps drive down those property crimes,” Durkan said. “So yes, we want people to report crimes, but I think it is not true that people aren’t reporting them. We get a significant number of property crimes that are reported.”

Durkan further commented that the city is implementing community engagement and youth employment programs to counter other crimes, such as gang activity. The comments come after Seattle has experienced a rash of shootings.

Most recently, a mother, her infant, and two children were injured in crossfire at a South Seattle park. Earlier this month, following a fatal Central District shooting, there were two more shootings within a day.

Durkan said that when it comes to the areas where the city is using emphasis patrols, people are “very happy” and that the city has had “nothing but very positive feedback.”

“One of the early data pieces that we have, that people feel safer, or that there has been a diminishment in crime is that we are having fewer people call in to 911, and more people engaging with officers on the street,” she said.

“But some of the feedback we are getting is not about the police presence,” she said. “It really is about the sidewalks are clear, the lights have been replaced, the bushes have been cut back, the parks have been activated … Whether it’s South Park or it’s Pioneer Square, we hear the same types of things.”

The city states that it will also implement additional summer emphasis patrols in Golden Gardens, Alki Beach, and Capitol Hill (for nightlife) — something the police department has done in recent years.

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