HERBOLD: Crime rates are declining in West Seattle and South Park; But homicides are up citywide
District 1 Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold shared this update via her newsletter to constituents.
Earlier this year Interim Chief Diaz spoke to the 2020 citywide homicide rate, which increased from 31 homicides in 2019 to 50 in 2020. As he noted, this is the highest number of homicides in 26 years, and it disproportionately affects young black men. He also spoke to the importance of work with external partners about addressing gun violence, which is a public health issue.
Here is crime data specifically for the Southwest Precinct, which has the same boundaries as District 1. Below is data for crime rates in the SW Precinct for 2018, 2019 and 2020, for violent crime and property crime.
Below is a map showing 2020 crime rates, with darker locations having a higher total in the different Micro-Community Policing Plans (Alaska Junction, Alki, Commercial Duwamish, Commercial Harbor Island, Fauntleroy, High Point, Highland Park, Morgan, North Admiral, North Delridge, Pigeon Point, Roxhill/Westwood/Arbor Heights, South Delridge and South Park).
One difficulty in interpreting this map is that population varies significantly in the plan areas. For example, South Delridge and Pigeon Point are small areas with significantly fewer residents than, for example, the Alaska Junction or Roxhill/Westwood/Arbor Heights.
That’s why I worked with SPD to get per capita crime data totals for the SW Precinct. Here’s the December 2017 data. I have, in subsequent years, requested additional per capita analysis. SPD has been understandably hesitant to repeat this exercise until new census data is available. The basis of the 2017 estimate was 2010 census data, and the further away from a census, the less reliable the data is. Once 2020 census data is available, we’ll have finely-grained data that will allow for clear per-capita figures.
While overall crime rates were down in the SW Precinct from 2019 to 2020, the monthly rates were higher toward the end of 2020 compared to the same months in 2019. Similarly, rates for January 2021 were higher compared to January 2020, and the highest in January since 2017. The trend is concerning, and I’ll continue to pursue city investments in evidence-based crime prevention and violence disruption strategies.