The latest results from an annual survey of Seattle’s perceptions around public safety show that fears about crime continued to drop in 2021 even as statistics measured a rise in reported incidents in the city. Meanwhile, respondents in the East Precinct including Capitol Hill and the Central District continued to rate Seattle Police poorly and expressed some of the most cynical views in the city about the legitimacy and trustworthiness of the department.
The 2021 survey results were published this week by Seattle University’s Crime and Justice Research Center. The full report is embedded below.
In the report, citywide fear of crime fell to its lowest point since the surveys began in 2015. That trend echoes results CHS reported in 2018 when we asked, “Why isn’t Capitol Hill more afraid of crime?” as we examined the Seattle U survey results. Top issues identified in the survey include ongoing concerns shared by Seattle residents over problems like car prowls and property crime.
CHS looked at 2021’s reported upward crime trends across East Precinct and the city here.
In the latest survey, the top public safety concerns for the East Precinct neighborhoods mirror the citywide results: Police Capacity, Property Crime, Homelessness, Traffic Safety, and Public Safety & Community Capacity. And those same categories come up in the individual rankings for the precinct’s neighborhoods from Montlake to First Hill.
But the 2021 results for the East Precinct show that the neighborhoods here continue to maintain a healthy skepticism of SPD continuing results identified last year as police legitimacy became a top concern following the flawed police response to the 2020 protests and CHOP.
2021 East Precinct respondents once again produced the highest response totals over a lack trust in SPD — and police, in general — than any other area of the city. The situation seems unlikely to improve quickly as the results of investigations and studies of the department’s response to Black Lives Matter and anti-police protests in 2020 and 2021 continue to yield concerning findings about the department’s responses and decisions from the chain of command.
Challenges from the city’s homelessness crisis and lack of mental health resources have also taken a toll on the neighborhoods of the East Precinct. Respondents on Capitol Hill and the Central District also identified as a top concern “lack of resources for individuals with mental illness” at a rate higher than any other single, specific neighborhood crime issue in the survey.
The process to collect information for the 2022 survey is already underway. Seattle University will begin holding virtual community-police dialogues from May through August. You can learn more and register here.
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