SPD’s 2022 Crime Report was released this week and will be discussed at the next meeting of Seattle’s Public Safety and Human Resources committee on Tuesday. While one of the report’s pull quotes is “the violent crime rate reached a 15-year high in 2022,” it is important to remember not only that crime data provided by police departments is not inherently reliable, but that violent crime in Seattle began to drop in the fall of 2022, and December 2022 had the fewest number of violent crimes reported since March of 2020.
As an article in today’s Seattle Times states: “Overall Seattle crime is down 28% in the past five months, and violent crime is down 30% compared to earlier in 2022, which Diaz said translated to 1,000 fewer police reports filed last month than in January 2022.” Regarding gun violence, it states: “Manion, who’s planning a gun violence prevention summit next month, noted the last quarter of 2022 was also the fourth consecutive quarter where the number of people age 18 to 24 injured or killed in shootings had declined. She thinks the decrease among that demographic is likely a result of intervention work being done by community groups and Harborview social workers, as well as the return to in-person schooling.” Unfortunately injury and fatalities from gun violence in the 30-to-39 year old age group have continued to increase, showing where more intervention may be needed.
Other information of note in the SPD’s 2022 Crime Report:
- The top five categories of 911 call types answered by SPD in 2022 were non-criminal in nature: traffic, suspicious circumstances, disturbance, assist public, and premise checks.
- Community-generated calls remained at the same level in 2022 as 2021.
- Bias crimes against unhoused people increased in 2022.
Several surveillance technologies currently in use by SPD were discussed at the Economic Development, Technology, and City Light Committee meeting this past Wednesday. You can read more about the ACLU Washington’s take on Seattle’s use of these technologies here.
A crowd of bystanders gathered near 12th and Mercer on Wednesday night to intervene with a police response to an unarmed person in crisis. One officer had aimed his rifle at the person in crisis and commanded them to drop any weapons and get on the ground. Bystanders yelled that the person in question didn’t have a gun and began filming the scene, eventually persuading the police to disengage and protecting the person in question from a potentially violent police response.
Seattle CM Mosqueda has confirmed her run for King County City Council Seat 8, and she already has a huge number of endorsements, including from Seattle Mayor Harrell and his opponent former Seattle Council President Lorena González, Executive Constantine, and the more progressive Seattle and King County CMs.
CM Lewis has his first announced opponent for Seattle CM in District 7 in Ryan Krumbholz.
And of course, ballots for Initiative 135 for social housing in Seattle are due on Tuesday, February 14.
WA State Legislature News
Senator Dhingra introduced her drug decriminalization bill that follows SURSAC recommendations, SB 5624, which had a hearing on Monday. The bill had also been scheduled for an executive session for later in the week, but this hearing was later canceled. Senator Robinson’s bill SB 5536 appears to be the preferred vehicle moving forward. This bill makes drug possession a felony while inserting the word “knowingly” to address the Blake decision, and it encourages the use of diversion programs.
Bills are moving along as we draw closer to the committee cutoff date of February 17, a week from today. HB 1513 regarding traffic stops and safety had an executive hearing on Thursday. HB 1363 unrolling the important high speed pursuit bill of 2021 has a tentative executive hearing next week, SB 5533, which would study high speed pursuits and collect more data, is scheduled for a hearing in the Ways & Means committee on Tuesday.
HB 1024 providing minimum wage in prisons has an executive session in the Committee on Appropriations on Monday, as does HB 1087 regarding solitary confinement. SB 5383 to decriminalize jaywalking has its first hearing in the Transportation committee on Monday. HB 1579 to establish an independent prosecutor had an executive session on Thursday. HB 1025 concerning civil liability for police had an executive session on Friday, and HB 1445, the AG investigative and reform bill, was referred to Appropriations.
I’ll be keeping a general eye on events but will be on vacation for the next two weeks, so unless something monumental happens, you can expect more Notes from the Emerald City in early March.
- Police Accountability Group Wants Answers on Fatal Collision
- State police pursuit debate is life-or-death policymaking
- They Want to Stay: Tammy Morales and Andrew Lewis on Why They’re Running for Reelection
- New AI tool instantly analyzes police bodycam footage
- Top Reads (and Listens) in Criminal Justice (Chloe Cockburn)
- How the Media Enables Violent Bureaucracy (Alec Karakatsanis)