Refuting a Recent Story Regarding Public Safety in Downtown
Dominic Holden argues that there’s not much to talk about when it comes to public safety in Downtown and then goes on to write a 2,400 word feature story in this week’s Stranger about public safety in Downtown. Clearly there’s a lot to talk about.
The article misses a number of key facts and misstates others.
Violent crime in the core of Downtown is up over past years, in some cases significantly.
Violent crime in the SPD beat Mary 2 (see a map of SPD beats here) in Downtown, which includes Westlake Park and the Retail Core, more than doubled during the January-July period of 2013 compared to the same period in 2008. Violent crime in this police beat has steadily increased over the past six years.
Violent crime in the Mary 3 police beat, which includes the Waterfront and Pioneer Square, also increased during the same period. There were more violent crimes in this police beat than at any time in the previous six years.
This problem is not limited to Downtown, but is occurring in other neighborhood business districts in Seattle. Areas of Capitol Hill are experiencing similar increases in violent crime. In fact, the Charlie 2 police beat in the East Precinct, which encompasses The Stranger’s offices and areas north of Pike Street between 15th and Broadway, experienced the highest number of reported violent crimes of any month since 2008. This increase is more than a simple uptick in incidents. Reported incidents of violent crime in Charlie 2 in July are nearly double the number experienced in any single month over the previous six years.
While violent crime has increased in certain areas, the police force has shrunk. In the second quarter of 2013, there were fewer patrol officers (including mounted, foot and bike and officers in cars) in the West Precinct (which includes Downtown police beats) than during any quarter dating back to Q4 of 2008*. The number of foot and bike patrols increased between 2008 and 20011, but has declined in the last three years.
Violent crime is up in some areas of Seattle. The number of officers is down and our city is growing. These are real and serious issues that warrant a public conversation this election year.
*Source: SPD Downtown Public Safety Plan, September 2013