According to city figures, the number of homicides in Seattle increased slightly in the first half of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, Axios reports.
During this time, Seattle reported 25 homicides, up from 22 in the first half of 2021. In addition, the city saw increases in the number of robberies, rapes, and aggravated assaults compared to the first six months of 2021.
However, these trends were not seen in other major cities across the country, where homicides actually declined in the first half of 2022.
Seattle officials have warned that the number of homicides in the city this year could exceed the 52 seen in 2020, the highest number recorded in a quarter century.
Violent crime in Washington state also saw a significant increase in 2021, according to a report released by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.
The report shows that violent crime overall rose by 12.3%. The number of murders in the state reached a high of 325, the most since the association started tracking the data in 1980. This marks an increase from 302 murders in 2020.
At the same time, the number of police officers available to respond to these crimes decreased, with 495 fewer police employed in the state, according to The Seattle Times. Washington already had the lowest number of officers per capita in the country, and the decrease left the state with 10,736 full-time officers, a drop of 4.4%.
The drastic increase in crime comes after the Seattle City Council cut the police budget by about 17%, though they ultimately fell short of their goal of a 50% reduction. However, the agency has faced numerous challenges since the budget cut. Reports of gun violence and homicides in Seattle have surged. Shootings have also increased, with 513 reported so far in 2022 compared to 391 at the same time the previous year.
In 2021, crime rates in Seattle reached levels not seen since 2001. However, this year, crime rates have continued to rise, reaching levels not seen since the 1990s. Police Chief Adrian Diaz recently reported a 95% increase in the number of shots fired and a 171% increase in the number of people being shot compared to the previous year.
Despite Seattle’s city budget of over $7 billion, which has consistently grown year over year, residents are not receiving the level of police protection that they are paying for. The data shows that the City Council’s efforts to defund the police in Seattle have failed to protect the city’s residents. The City Council’s inability to effectively address public safety has led to dangerous levels of crime in the city, with the potential for homicides to reach the highest levels seen in a quarter century. It is clear that the City Council must prioritize the safety and well-being of Seattle’s residents and consider alternative approaches to addressing crime.