Unlike Tacoma, Seattle Police swears by crime data

Nov 18, 2022, 1:58 PM
Crime data statistics in Seattle are not facing a similar pushback to Tacoma. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

After Tacoma Police Union President Henry Betts said the city’s crime information is misleading its residents, the Seattle Police Department (SPD) wanted to ensure their data is as accurate as possible.

“Our Data Driven Unit does an excellent job of vetting all statistics before publishing anything,” said Detective Patrick Michaud with SPD Public Affairs. “We very rarely run into issues with the data. The department has worked very hard to build trust in the reporting process and as that work continues, people feel safe reporting crimes.”

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Tacoma Police Chief Avery Moore reported in a recent press conference that violent crime — murder, robbery, aggravated assault — is down 37% within Tacoma, leading Betts to write a letter about the inaccuracies in this claim.

“Tacoma Police Department leadership recently presented to the City Council an update on violent crime in the City of Tacoma. That update was widely covered by the local media. The Officers, Detectives, and Sergeants represented by the Tacoma Police Union Local 6 interact daily with the community that is experiencing unprecedented crime in our city,” Betts wrote. “For us, the real message was lost in TPD’s presentation. TPD’s artificially narrow focus on statistical improvements in crime rates in specific locations misleads the public into believing crime is down citywide. That is far from the truth.”

In the letter, Betts said neighborhoods are still experiencing too many shootings, drive-by shootings, and assaults.

Crime data statistics in Seattle are not facing a similar pushback, according to Michaud.

In SPD’s data, Seattle recently recorded the lowest amount of crime in a month since June 2021, with just 3,894 crimes logged in September 2022.

While that number would only qualify as the sixth-lowest month of crime in the previous year, Seattle has witnessed a 13% drop in crime from January through October, according to SPD statistics.

2022’s crime trends have been an anomaly compared to the previous two pandemic-riddled years. Whereas crime peaked in the month of January 2022 (4,538), 2020 saw a three-month high in crime from September to November, and 2021 peaked from October through December.

“2020 and ’21 were abnormal years for quite a few reasons, so while forgetting them is impossible, removing them from the analytics, for now, is necessary,” Michaud said. “Sticking with the crime statistics though, when you remove 2020-21, 2022 directly mirrors every year going back to 2015, but the numbers are higher.”

SPD arrests suspect threatening students with weapons on campus

The stark difference when comparing this year to 2015-19 is the sheer volume of crime. 2022 is on pace for approximately 47,718 crimes, 8.7% more than the previous high in that span (2018).

Unfortunately, the number of violent crimes continues to climb in Seattle. The city is on pace for 5,504 violent crimes, clearing last year’s record-high of 5,412. The database tracks all crimes dating back to 2008.

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Unlike Tacoma, Seattle Police swears by crime data