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Seattle Police Department brings ‘perfect storm’ concerns to East Precinct community crime meeting

Wednesday night’s virtual meeting of the East Precinct Advisory Council brought community members fatigued by ongoing pandemic restrictions and months of protest together with Seattle Police officials who described the situation around crime in the East Precinct as a “perfect storm.”

SPD brought statistics to back up its claims including what the department says is a near 13% rise in overall crime in the East Precinct. That’s in line with CHS’s report on summer crime trends that showed overall crime down but the core, most serious crimes up 12% in a surge that began in January well before the pandemic and protests set in.

Focusing on the most serious crimes that SPD uses for its statistical analysis like assaults, burglaries, and vehicle related crimes, CHS showed crime was down 4% through August in 2020. In June during the height of CHOP, crime — including everything from animal cruelty to street robberies — dropped a whopping 14% from recent years across the precinct.

There have been areas of frustration, however, as burglaries have surged around Pike/Pine and in the area between Broadway and I-5. Homicides and gun related crimes have also climbed. There have already been nine murders across the East Precinct — there were five in all of 2019 and three the year before.

And the month since CHS’s analysis has not been a good one. In September, the East Precinct recorded a 23% jump in overall crime compared to the same month last year.

The surging stats come on the heels of months of demonstrations against systemic racism and police brutality often based at the East Precinct on Capitol Hill that have frequently resulted in arrests. One community member said they were frustrated demonstrators weren’t being punished more for “tearing this city up.”

SPD officials said Wednesday night that it is difficult to prosecute these cases with lower jail capacities due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic and the time it takes to complete paperwork on each case.

“I think everybody is tired of all the protests and all the violence and all the property destruction,”  Lt. Paul Leung said. “This is almost a perfect storm.”


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Why the disconnect between SPD’s outlook and the stats reported by CHS? SPD’s Sea Stat crime analytics focus on that subset of the city’s crime categories ranging across the major issues like burglary, auto theft, assaults, and robberies. That Sea Stat prism tells a different story — in part.

In Seattle in 2020, Sea Stat crimes have fallen around 8%. And in the East Precinct, the Sea Stat view reveals one of SPD’s concerns — Sea Stat’s core crimes climbed through August in the East Precinct, according to SPD’s reporting.

Leung connected what he says has been a 13% rise in property crime for the East Precinct compared to this point last year to the protest movement and CHOP occupied protest earlier this summer. Arson and burglary have seen two of the biggest increases year-over-year among property crimes, according to public data compiled by the police department. For example, SPD reports 17 acts of arson in the third quarter of 2020. Last year, that figure was two in the East Precinct.

The East Precinct includes the area stretching from Montlake to I-90 on the east side of I-5.

The crime rate for the East Precinct has also gone up by about 13%, Leung noted, including nine homicides over the first three quarters of this year compared to five in the same period in 2019.

Leung claimed responding to constant protests have hampered the ability of the police to quickly deal with violent crimes.

Not all of the discussion focused on traditional policing. Brandie Flood, who works for the REACH homelessness outreach program said the current way of doing things is based on white supremacy.

“The whole system needs to be reformed, so everybody can [get] the help that they need, it’s just not from the law enforcement,” she said. “We have a small part of it, especially mental illness and any kind of addiction. You know what? We could do our part, but the thing is that after we either do whatever we need to do, there always has to be some kind of support for those people to get them back on to the right path.”

Leung conceded that the system, including law enforcement, needs to be “revamped.”

Meanwhile, representatives from REACH briefed the advisory council, noting that community referrals for services for people experiencing homelessness no longer have to be approved by law enforcement. On top of referrals from police, the program will also be taking referrals directly from the community, according to Flood.

REACH, a city-contracted program, conducts outreach to help people experiencing homelessness access needed services, whether it be housing and healthcare or food.

“We’ve always taken on community referrals, it’s just that law enforcement would approve or deny that person into the program,” Flood said. “But now they don’t hold that gatekeeping power anymore.”

SPD also had more concerns to share. After 150 days of protests, SPD says it is preparing for large-scale civil unrest after next week’s election, Leung said Wednesday, though, for this, there have been no reported threats and no specifics about the concerns.

“We don’t know what’s going to happen during the election, so we’re preparing for the whole week, from Sunday to Sunday, planning for the worst and hoping for the best,” Leung said.


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Fro
Fro
25 days ago

Amazing that while most of us were isolating that crime went down, especially when so many of us no longer report crime

LinkRider
LinkRider
22 days ago
Reply to  Fro

Did it go down? There’s so much noise in data like this from months like September and June that it’s hard to draw any conclusions, even if you wanted just to focus on major crimes or were considering crimes overall, and even if you assume reporting is consistent.

Up:
East Precinct overall crime up 13% (timeframe?)
East Precinct property crime up 13% (Jan-Oct 2020 vs Jan-Oct 2020?)
East Precinct up 13% (in a single month? serious crimes only?)
East Precinct September up 26% (major?)
Most serious crimes up 12% (East Precinct, for Jan-Aug)

Down:
East Precinct June down 14% (major?)
SeaStat down 8% (major crimes, city-wide)
Crime down 4%, focusing on most serious crimes (Jan-Aug 2020 vs Jan-Aug 2020? East Precinct or city-wide?)

It’s not obvious whether the dashboard trendline above is just showing serious crimes from the East Precinct, or city-wide data, though if you look at the y-axis and already knew what the stats should be, you might be able to tell.

rodeo
rodeo
25 days ago

i find it odd that the police were “billy badass” when they were a funded legal gang.
now all of a sudden they are asked to step up and do there “job” and all we hear is excuse after excuse and whining and crying.
get rid of all the excess admin and overhead. sell the military vehicles and all of that garbage and get out and patrol and do “your jobs”.
simple as that. you have allowed the all of seattle to get away with doing anything they want on the streets and now you are not stepping up and being accountable for your lack of duty to your job.
i know and realize we need a police dept.. and i know we need control. as of yet tho i have seen nothing from the police dept but boohooing and wanting more money to do absolutely nothing.
there is no patroling and actully pulling people over for infractions. just speedtraps and the first words from their mouths is……..”how much have you had to drink, or i smell marijuana” both giving the illusion of probable cause and the lazy way out for the police.
it takes forever to get a police officer to show up. even before the huge exit of many officers.
when they get there they treat you as if “you” were the criminal.
between the spd stepping on their own toes and seattle mayor and city council handcuffing everyone BUT the criminals and homeless it is a mess.
one cant defend themselves against it or we go to jail.
not the criminals.
its stupid and moronic just like the worthless police dept , mayor and city council.
the three of them created this mess and want all of us to bail them out.
what a joke!

Maria Johnson
Maria Johnson
25 days ago

People are broke, homeless, sick, dying, and instead of solving any of these problems we throw some 18 year old with a stick up his ass to give traffic citations and harass black people. We need to take money from the bloated police budget and put it towards the health of our city.

Pedro
Pedro
25 days ago

Durkan’s terrible management on this whole situation and seattle’s awful awful city council are bringing our city to the ground.
It won’t surprise me if in 20 years we’re as bankrupt as Detroit

Kurt
Kurt
24 days ago

When talking about statistics it is important to include where the data is from. Crime data is typically from reported crime, which means reported crime has declined. That doesn’t mean that crimes are not there, it means people are not calling the police. When you compare these stats to major crimes that cannot be ignored, like murder, the numbers are going up, which implies there’s more to the story.

Litch
Litch
23 days ago

Seattle unemployment hit 16.6% this year. It has fallen back to 7.4% but that is still higher than it has been since the spring of 2012 when we were just beginning to recover from the 09 crash or even back in the bad old days of the 90s. And this has been a k shaped recovery, most of the recovery going to the highest payed folks, the ones who can work from homes. The people who were just barely holding on are screwed, any savings, payments they were going to get have run out and theyre desperate.

So, crime is rising a bit. Surprise, Surprise, Surprise!