King County updates data dashboard to let public see ongoing crime stats
The King County Prosecutor's Office has updated and made available to the public a data dashboard – a way for the public to look at the types of crimes they have filed in the last 11 years. The online tool shows crime trends year over year, and graphs depicting crime data breakdowns.
They created this dashboard in 2020 to help better inform the public, government decision makers, and criminal justice system partners about the trajectory of felony criminal justice cases in King County. The KCPAO handles the vast majority of felonies in King County and some misdemeanors. Misdemeanor crimes are low-level offenses punishable by up to 364 days in jail. Felony crimes are more serious offenses and may result in a prison sentence of more than one year. This dashboard only provides data on felony referrals and cases filed into King County Superior Court; it does not contain any data on cases in King County District Court or the various Municipal Courts. The data that populates this dashboard comes from the KCPAO and, where noted, the King County Department of Judicial Administration about cases filed or intended to be filed in King County Superior Court.
To explore the dashboard, click on the tabs below. Use the check boxes and buttons on the right-hand side of the dashboard to choose specific data points for particular dates and crimes. Hovering your cursor over the graphs or icons will cause pop-ups with additional information to appear. A glossary of terms is provided below the graphs.
Westside Seattle asked their office some questions about the tool.
Is there any extrapolation regarding black on white crime? or other interracial crime trends?
That data lives with 39 law enforcement agencies in King County. Our office’s ethical and legal responsibilities prohibit us from speaking directly with defendants in criminal cases, so the best data we have is form the law enforcement agencies. Defendant info is included in the dashboard.
Victim data is also gathered by law enforcement.
The data that’s available is in the Demographics section, then to the right of that box.
There’s also an important note on victim data in the dashboard.
Is there any trendline information with other demographic information like crime among teens increasing?
What we have available in the dashboard is in the demographic section.
Is there any information as to the types of crimes and associated trends? Are property crimes up? Are burglaries up?
If you click on the filings box and then choose the category type on the right side you can see that information. Same with felony referrals. But these are the cases that are sent to us and charged. That’s different from a reported crime that may not be sent to prosecutors, which can happen for a number of reasons (most often lack of evidence beyond a reasonable doubt).
Is there any geographic break out as to crimes in specific parts of King County?
Not at this point. Hopefully that’s something we can add, though it also would rely on data provided by law enforcement when a case is referred.
Is there any data that suggests that drugs are a motivator in any of these crimes?
The best way to look at that is the police narrative and case summary in individual case filings, and also later court documents as a case progresses. (Through ECR.) This dashboard is an overview.
One note on drugs, is looks like 2018 and 2019 had a big change. This is the explainer on that page that can be easy to overlook.
It looks from the data that the trendline is down across the board, falling just below the 2018 level and well below previous years. Are there any summarized conclusions the office can draw in terms of success or failure regarding percentage of convictions of cases?
We don’t have a summarized report to answer that question at this point, and in the coming months we will be working to tell more stories using the data that populates the dashboard. Generally speaking conviction rates in prosecutor’s offices writ large are high – in the 90% range – based on how cases are selected and how plea bargaining works. We can only bring cases that we believe we can prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
It would appear that in many cases, the judiciary issues sentences, or refrains to even go that far in many cases, putting repeat offenders back on the street? how is it possible for someone to be caught, charged, convicted 50 times? At what point do we recognize that person is likely offend again?
It would be extremely rare that someone could be in and out with 50 felony convictions. Often when you see someone with dozens of convictions that includes misdemeanors, which in Seattle are handled by the City Attorney’s Office. Sentence ranges are set by state lawmakers, and sentencing is ultimately up to a judge. We see many people who have more than a dozen convictions overall or more than a dozen warrants in a lifetime. What we can do is charge the case for the criminal behavior and then follow the sentencing guidelines set by the Legislature. Especially in cases involving individuals who are not engaged in repeat criminal behavior, we can opt to encourage them to participate in Drug Court, Mental Health Court, or another specialty court that seeks to address the underlying contributors (substance use disorder, mental health, lack of job training) that may be contributing to criminal behavior.
What can the Prosecutor’s office do in the face of the recent ruling striking down the drug possession law? Does the office have a position or statement on that?
We’re still charging cases where there’s evidence beyond a reasonable doubt of drug dealing. The cases we’re filing are the most serious drug cases in the county. In terms of the Blake decision, we’ll follow additional guidance from the Court – there are still a lot of questions.