The Seattle Police Department (SPD) released its 2021 Year-End Crime Report on Feb. 4—which showed an alarming increase in violent crime and gun violence compared to 2020.
The report showed that in 2021, aggravated assaults were up by 24%, incidents of shots fired reached an all-time high—up 40% since 2020, and overall violent crime increased by 20%—reaching the highest level in 14 years.
“I have directed [Police Chief Adrian 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 Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell.
The Chinatown-International District was among the top three Seattle neighborhoods that saw the largest number of cases.
Along with Diaz and Fire Chief Harold Scoggins, Harrell held a press conference on Feb. 4 to lay out early strategies to address crime and share immediate priorities to improve public safety.
“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 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.”
A news release stated, “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.”
Harrell said, “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.”
Seattle has lost nearly 350 police officers over the past two years, and is currently staffed at similar levels to the 1990s.
“I inherited a depleted and demoralized police department—this status quo is not acceptable,” Harrell said. “To our police officers, we welcome good work and expect you to act with excellence while treating everyone with respect. 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 mayor said he is working with SPD and Chief Diaz on strategies to improve SPD staffing and additional public safety solutions to improve response times, reduce gun violence, and better address issues that don’t require a gun and badge.