Violent crimes in Seattle reach ‘14-year high’ in 2021, according to report from SPD

Feb 4, 2022, 11:10 AM | Updated: Feb 5, 2022, 7:53 am
Seattle shootings, downtown, crime report...
Police at the scene of a shooting in downtown Seattle in October of 2021. (SPD Blotter)
(SPD Blotter)

The Seattle Police Department released its annual crime report for 2021 on Friday, detailing across-the-board increases in rates of crimes across all major categories.

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According to the report, overall crime increased by 10% from 2020 to 2021; violent crime increased by 20%, while property crime went up 9%.

SPD highlighted Seattle’s violent crime rate as a primary concern, after reaching “a 14-year high in 2021.” That was driven by marked increases in aggravated assaults (up 24% year-over-year) and robberies (up 18%).

Consistent with recent county-level reporting, shootings and “shots-fired events” increased in Seattle over the last year as well, rising by 40% year-over-year, and by 86% from 2019. So-called “hotspots” were identified in the downtown area, Rainier Valley, and the northern edge of the city near Northgate. Lake City, Brighton/Dunlap, and the International District experienced the largest increase in shooting incidents of all neighborhoods.

A majority of shooting victims over the last year were Black, comprising 52% of the total, followed by white residents at 23%, and Asian/Pacific Islander at 12%.

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Meanwhile, 911 response times reached “historic highs,” averaging 10.5 minutes, with a median of roughly 7.5 minutes. In 2020, the average response time was 9.58 minutes.

SPD also tracks the community’s level of trust in the police, ascribing a numerical score out of 100. In late 2019, the department’s “trust score” sat around 64, before peaking at 67 by May of 2020. Social justice protests stemming from the death of George Floyd saw that number plummet to 53 by August 2020, before reaching a three-year low of 48 in January 2021. That number ticked back up again to 61 in May of 2021, coinciding with a clash between SPD and city council over a strategy for proposed layoffs.

The trust score for SPD dipped back down to 55 in August 2021, around the same time Seattle experienced a string of shootings in Belltown, downtown, and Pioneer Square. The department ended 2021 with a trust score of 60, touting in its full report that “community perceptions of public safety & trust of police in Seattle trended upward” to close out the year.

On Friday, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell held a press conference — joined by Police Chief Adrian Diaz and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins — to outline strategies the city of Seattle is taking to address crime. He also shared immediate priorities to improve public safety in the city.

“I want to be very clear — we will not tolerate crime in Seattle,” Harrell said. “Whether organized retail theft, crimes of violence against our most vulnerable, crimes of hate, or especially gun violence, we will not look the other way while the fabric of our neighborhoods and city is destroyed.”

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Violent crimes in Seattle reach ‘14-year high’ in 2021, according to report from SPD