City releases 2009 crime stats

It may not come as much of a surprise that the Seattle Police Department’s year-end crime stats, released this week, show a slight rise in crime in 2009 when compared to 2008; back in December the FBI released national crime stats that uncovered the same upswing trend here in Seattle.

Based on SPD data, violent crimes went up 12 percent in 2009 from 2008, while property crimes rose 7 percent. Although this may seem like a significant increase, the FBI report comparing violent crimes in the first halves of both 2008 and 2009 in Seattle, indicated a much larger increase of 22 percent.

Though these numbers may be startling, to give some perspective, SPD also compared the 2009 stats to all of the final major crime numbers over the last decade. SPD wrote on their website,

One final note on the 2009 Major Crime trends is apparent when they are viewed not only in comparison with 2008, but also in light of the trends over a period of years. The table below presents a ten-year picture of Major Crimes in Seattle. In the last two rows, the ten-year average for each crime category is shown as well as the comparison of the 2009 figures to this average.

As the table demonstrates, the Major Crime totals for 2009 are below the ten-year averages in all crimes, except robbery.

So there you have it. Though the stats show assaults, larceny and burglary are also up compared to 2008, robbery is the only crime that has risen above average over the last ten years. Read more on recent and past SPD crime statistics here and here.

36 thoughts to “City releases 2009 crime stats”

  1. Nah – the apologists will still be out in force chanting, “it's just a perception of more crime now, because of the internet, we hear about the crimes all the time….don't worry, be happy, everything's great!”

    Oh, yeah, and my other favorite excuses: 1) hey, this is nothing – it's not nearly as bad as <insert the place they came here from>, and 2) it's all part of living in a city, so get used to it and STFU whiners – just finished the missing link and all crime will disappear!”


  2. Wasn't really much to debate. We already know that crime goes up during hard economic times. Pretty much everything from robbery to domestic abuse. And these are definitely hard economic times.

  3. “Major Crime totals for 2009 are below the ten-year averages in all crimes, except robbery.”

    Crime is down compared to the 10 year average, so why don't you STFU.


  4. Yet another common misconception spread by the ignorant.
    Crime has reduced nationally, even in this economy. The exception, the Seattle Tacoma areas. Why is now the debate, keep up, will you?
    Blaming the economy is the farce the hug a thugs embrace. A closer look at the catagories shows a huge increase in recitivism. That is the difference.
    It is also interesting how that is never an issue in this discussion. Why?

  5. I don't know which is the bigger pile of crap: that right-wing WSJ article, or your weird interpretation about 'proper policing and incarceration'. Consider the opening lines of the article:

    “The recession of 2008-09 has undercut one of the most destructive social theories that came out of the 1960s: the idea that the root cause of crime lies in income inequality and social injustice.”

    Gee. Do you think the author had a bit of a bias going in? She works for The Manhattan Institute, a free-market think-tank!

    Here's another view:
    It's just not so simple.

  6. From YOUR article:

    “The role of the police in reducing crime is often overlooked by those preoccupied with the jobs-crime link. The sharp decline in crime in New York — and now in Los Angeles — has a lot to do with how those police departments changed.

    Over the last several decades, New York has experienced the country's largest decline in crime since we began keeping records. The reasons are not fully understood but include a 33% increase in the size of the New York Police Department, an excellent computerized system for tracking crime (Compstat), a management style that made precinct commanders fully accountable for managing crime in their districts and an aggressive policy of searching people on the streets for guns”

  7. Yes? Yes! That is a quote! Good cut-paste skills!

    I'm not denying that better policing reduces crime. More police, more efficient police -> less crime. Agreed!

    The WSJ article was saying pretty strongly that the bad economy was actually /lowering/ crime, and that, therefore, the whole concept of a tie between economic disparity and crime was flawed.

    That WSJ article is a steaming pile of wishful conservative thinking that /downplays/ the effect of improved policing on lowering crime.

  8. @gurple

    you have some serious reading comprehension problems if you think the WSJ article was claiming that lower crime was a result of a bad economy.

    it was simply usining facts to disput the myth the a high crime in a bad economy is inevitable.

    it was proving that good policing can reduce crime DESPITE the economic hardship, something that the myth claimed was impossible.

    its funny that youve attacked the article, and indirectly me, so vehemently, yet post a link to an editorial that is essentially making the same exact argument.

  9. @Nathan:

    You got me, I was overstating the WSJ article's stupidity for effect, and that was hardly necessary. Here, to my mind, is the crux of the WSJ article, and the single dumbest thing about it:

    “And by the end of 2009, the purported association between economic hardship and crime was in shambles.”

    The author takes some data that shows that, in some places, improved policing has lowered crime. From those data she infers that there is no association between crime and the economy.

    Do you see the hole in her logic? Do you see why I say that the article is ideologically driven?

  10. Extremely interesting articles. I can see how the first has more of an ideological agenda than the second- the second ended with a question. But I enjoyed reading both. I think the point is the same and we mostly all agree, whether the economy or whatever is to blame, only one thing will improve the situation- more effective policing. It was interesting to read that the LA police chief was able to get results without the addtional funding. Maybe there is hop for us yet.

  11. Against crime histrionics? Absolutely. I still am. Crime is up a little bit, but we are still statistically safer today than we have been for much of the past 30 years. Our neighborhood is still a great place to live.

    Lock your doors when you leave. Take reasonable precautions. Pay your insurance. Keep in touch with your neighbors. Do these things, and there's no need to be hysterical about crime.

  12. Good point. I don't think we need to get hysterical about it and become a bunch of paranoid shut ins, but the level of property crime around here is way too high. And it doesn't have to be that way. I think that's what gets me pissed off about it and harping on the crime issue.

  13. You probably know my politics are pretty progressive, but regardless of ten year averages a 12% rise in violent crime is completely significant and shouldn't be dismissed as something not to be worried about.

    You can say don't worry about it and take reasonable precautions but each of those crimes represents someone being attacked. Compared to last year hundreds more living, breathing people were assaulted or mugged. This sucks and I say unacceptable!, and who care how much safer we are than LA or Oakland or compared to ten years ago.

    The economic climate does a lot to influence the crime rate. So too does the number of police on the street. The most recent data in criminology is acknowledging that lots of police who can be fluidly dispatched to intensely patrol shifting crime hot spots works very well — doesn't let criminal activity build to a critical mass that then allows impunity.

    From past posts you probably also know I have no love for abusive cops — too many are power tripping jerks. But this city has one of the lowest cop to citizen ratios of big cities in the USA, and by a wide margin fro the mean. We can't be protected by our relatively homogenous populace and a fairly strong local economy forever. We need more police on the streets and available to respond to calls of trouble so we can keep the violent crime stats going down. In my opinion there is no such thing as “low enough” when it comes to muggings and assaults.

  14. I don't dismiss policing as an aspect. (small aspect)
    I insist that the courts have been the greatest travesty, not only incredibly soft on criminals, but allowing the ACLU to completely castrate the incarceration process.
    Until these judges get serious, there isn't much more the cops can do.

  15. More police would be nice, judges that don't release habitual criminals the next day would be even better. We would actually require less law enforcement if the thugs were where they belonged, and didn't want to go back when they were released.

  16. blueben, you were the most vocal about these 'percieved' increases in crime in our particular neighborhood as being nothing short of fabricated by the fear mongers on the internet. “we are actually safer than ever, but these fear mongers and vigilante thugs on the internet spewing about a rising crime rate does not make it so.
    At least you mention “Keep in touch with your neighbors”, which is what you were poo-pooing about us about last year.
    Informing our neighbors about the serious increase in burglaries, assualts, and property crimes.
    “fear mongers” “thug vigilantee business owners” etc.
    What an a-hole.

  17. fullone, Although I do agree somewhat with your point, blaming the ACLU, Al Gore, and everything not conservative for it is petty and counterproductive. We could always argue that the conservative anti tax crowd has crippled the system by starving it of funds, or that the war on drugs has created more criminals and overfilled the jails. The US still incarcerates more of its citizens than any other country and yet we still have quite a bit of crime.
    I do agree that not enough is being done, but I do also have to wonder what can be done to accomplish the goal more effectively and cut down crime in the long run. You can bail the water out of the boat all day, every day, but unless you plug the hole you'll keep taking on water.
    Seattle comes up short on policing, not because we have lousy cops, but because we don't have enough of them. Beyond the visibility of cops on the street, I think we've reached a tipping point where the undersized police force is reluctant to attempt a lot of the community policing that has been proven effective in other cities because they don't have the manpower to carry it through and don't have the leadership to push it. We wind up with the police equivalent of enforcement from 10,000 feet. The cops don't have the time to get out of the car and proactively deal with issues or get to know the characters. They don't have the time to do real follow up on most incidents. They don't have the time or resources to deal with the petty crimes that then turn into major crimes.
    I don't have a problem with a kid who gets caught smoking pot being given a pre trial diversion. I do have a problem when the repeat felony offender gets off because the jails are full. The judges will tell you that their hands are tied too because there isn't room for these guys with the budget cuts and the mandatory sentences for some of the drug offenses.

  18. Locking 'em up and getting “justice!” is nice and we should be doing that, but the flipside of this is that more police on the street with a real community policing plan can actually reduce the number of crimes and criminals BEFORE they commit crimes.

  19. But our incarceration rates are the highest in the world by a mile and we still have major crime problems in the US. I understand your urge and argument, but all indications are that locking more and more people up is not actually fixing anything and makes absolutely no sense as a long term solution.

    I'm not gonna buy that we just haven't locked up enough people and thrown away the key yet, so don't waste your key strokes. Plus that is absurdly expensive.

    Not saying I have the solution,. just that yours makes sexy anecdotes but doesn't seem to hold water in the real world. At least though you are venturing something — I'll give you credit for that.

  20. “Keep in touch with your neighbors” does not mean “panic and gossip about every petty shoplifting”. It means know your neighbors, keep in touch, and watch out for each other. That you seem to believe that keeping in touch means fear-mongering about how bad things are is a telling and sad testament of your state of mind.

    You can call me an a-hole I suppose. I'm trying to have a positive impact on my neighborhood, and you're attacking your neighbors out of what appears to be a paranoia driven hatred. Which of these is really an a-hole activity? If you really wanted to be as self-righteous as I suspect you think you are, your posts would be a bit more thoughtful and respectful. Instead, all we get is the bitter bile that forms as soon as you grow angry.

  21. Jails are full, jails are full, and more jails won't solve the problem…
    You have to plug the holes if you want to stop bailing water…
    Vigilantees with baseball bats is all you have to offer…
    Blaming the ACLU (throw in Al gore for extra umph!) is petty.
    Heard it all before, still a large pile of crap SPG, crap.

    You've heard of Sheriff Joe right?

    You've agreed that NY turned around it's cesspool, right?

    Here's a bold idea. Open up some jail cells by shipping these carrier thugs back to the location of their origin. Why are we incarcerating illegals when they should just be kicked out of this country??
    Why are we incarcerating petty theives with rap sheets and warrants from California, Texas, who cares from where. Ship their sorry asses out!

    Isntead of smelling the stink, trying to ignore it, help do something!

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