In the face of increased crime, Mayor lays out priorities and discusses immediate efforts that are leading to tangible results
Seattle – Today, Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell held a press conference to lay out early strategies the City of Seattle is taking to address crime and share immediate priorities to improve public safety.
Mayor Harrell was joined by Police Chief Adrian Diaz and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, who provided insight into the state of public safety in Seattle.
“I want to be very clear – we will not tolerate crime in Seattle. Whether organized retail theft, crimes of violence against our most vulnerable, crimes of hate, or especially gun violence, we will not look the other way while the fabric of our neighborhoods and city is destroyed,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell.
The Seattle Police Department today released its 2021 Year-End Crime Report which showed increases in violent crime and gun violence compared to 2020:
- Aggravated assaults are up 24%
- Shots fired reached an all-time high, up 40% since 2020
- Overall violent crime increased by 20%, reaching the highest level in 14 years
“I have directed Chief Diaz to focus his efforts on those places in our City where crime is concentrated, disrupting the lives of the people who live and work there,” said Mayor Harrell.
“I’m committed to ensuring we’re driving down our 911 response times, addressing our overall crime issues, and stepping up our gun violence response throughout the entire city,” said Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz.
“We will continue to work with our community partners to prevent crime in neighborhoods.
We’re deploying all resources to hotspots including patrol, community response, and detectives to address and drive down crime.”
The collaborative community partnership approach towards public safety can be seen in Little Saigon at 12th Ave South and Jackson Street.
Working with neighbors and local businesses, Seattle Police made 23 felony arrests and 14 misdemeanor arrests in the first 21 days of January, as well as recovering stolen property 24 times, and engaging in over 100 interactions with shop owners, shoppers, and residents.
These efforts included providing medical assistance and referring people to social services and diversionary programs.
Seattle plans to launch similar efforts in other neighborhoods soon.
“I inherited a depleted and demoralized police department – this status quo is not acceptable. To our police officers, we welcome good work and expect you to act with excellence while treating everyone with respect,” said Mayor Bruce Harrell.
“To our residents, I’ve set a high bar for what excellence means and that starts with a keen appreciation for the constitutional rights of everyone.
We have a lot of work to do, and it will take time, but we are headed in a new direction with urgency.”
The City of Seattle has lost a staggering number of officers, nearly 350 over the past two years, and is currently staffed at similar levels to the 1990s.
The mayor continues to work with Seattle Police Department and Chief Diaz on strategies to improve SPD staffing – a necessary step for future public safety initiatives.
Mayor Harrell will also continue to work on additional public safety solutions to improve response times, reduce gun violence, and better address issues that don’t require a gun and badge.
“In 2021 the Seattle Fire Department ran over 94,000 calls for service and over 12,000 of those were related to encampments, RVs, and people experiencing homelessness, up significantly from the past two years,” said Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins.
“Our Health One team has been deploying daily to do preventative measures and try to build relationships and bring people inside but these challenges still in front of us and very real.
We’ve had to make changes to our deployment tactics to use ballistic protection gear and stage farther out so we can ensure the safety of our personnel when responding to scenes of violence calls which spiked last year.”
While the links between issues of homelessness and public safety are nuanced, Mayor Harrell is committed to addressing both with urgency and action.
Under Mayor Harrell, the City is partnering closely with King County and the Regional Homelessness Authority to create sustainable solutions to house unsheltered individuals and will announce further efforts later this month.
Seattle will also continue to advocate for statewide solutions and collaboration, like proposed Senate Bill 5662 which would create a new Office of Intergovernmental Coordination on Public Right-of-Way Homeless Encampments to address encampments on state owned property.