It’s not that there’s more or less crime in Seattle, but that it’s changed. Seattle’s own superhero, Phoenix Jones, says criminals are faster and more violent.
“It’s harder now,” he told KIRO Radio’s Jason Rantz Show.
He said it used to be that someone would rip off a backpack and then stand on the street corner to sort through it.
“Now you’re seeing that a guy shows up with a gun, hits someone over the head, grabs a backpack, jumps in a car and drives away,” Jones explained.
He believes criminals have adapted to crime fighting downtown and they’re more agile, moving in and then moving out just as quickly.
“The last two months have been the most frustrating crime fighting months on me ever because I keep rolling up on people who have been victims of crime and not being able to catch the perpetrator,” Jones said.
Two weeks ago, Jones said a woman jumped out of a car in front of a bar on Capitol Hill and hit a group of people with pepper spray. The group dropped their phones and other belongings and of course, the woman scooped them up and took off. Jones said they chased her around the block, but she jumped into a car and sped off.
He said he hasn’t figured out how exactly to combat it. Maybe it means more guys on the street and maybe it means fewer visual patrols. Recently, his crew started wearing trench coats while on patrol and that seems to be more effective because the criminal isn’t aware someone is watching.
“They used to not care so much, but now they’re generally afraid of us being there,” Jones said. “So I think you’re going to see a lot more of Phoenix Jones popping out from behind a trench coat or from behind a bush — less walking down a street with six people.”
His group is about 10 large now, with another 10 unsanctioned superheroes also patrolling downtown Seattle.
As for the Seattle Police Department, Jones acknowledges he doesn’t have the greatest relationship with the cops.
“I’m not criticizing them for being ineffective or anything like that,” he said. “I’m criticizing them for caring or not caring. I think there are too many officers who simply don’t care.”
He estimates as many as half of the cops on the streets when he is – 2 a.m. or later – don’t care about what’s happening, especially the officers in the Pioneer Square and Belltown neighborhoods.
“I’ll tell them, ‘Hey, this guy has been looking for somebody, he’s looking to snatch a purse,’ and they tell me, ‘That’s not a crime.’ I’m like, I know that’s not a crime, but what’s going to happen is a crime.” They’re like, ‘When a crime happens, call us, Phoenix.'”
Jones said the officers on the Capitol Hill beat are different and it’s obvious they care.
“There’s just a difference in the way they approach crime,” he said.
When Jones isn’t cruising the street in his trench coat, he’s at the gym preparing for his upcoming fight. He’ll attempt to earn his first World Series of Fighting victory on Sept. 18.
It’s a bit of a comeback story after Jones lost to Emmanuel Walo in April.
“He went to plan B, which was wrestling,” Jone said. “And I really didn’t have an answer for the take-down. I got up every single time. He never hurt me, but he spent so much time laying on top of me, I lost the position.”
Jones has no plans to lose again — in the ring and on Seattle’s streets.