(The Center Square) – Bellevue is currently seeing a 10% drop in year-to-date crimes and its police department is citing data-driven crime reduction strategies for the boosted public safety presence that produced the dip.
Year-to-date crime against persons, property and society through September 2023 are down 10% from 2022. Last year there were 6,484 reported crimes in the city through Oct. 16. The latest statistics from the Bellevue National Incident-Based Reporting System Dashboard show 5,819 total crimes occurred in 2023 year-to-date.
Crimes against persons, including murder, rape, assault and violation of protection orders, are down 2% year-to-date. Notably there have been no homicides in 2023 compared to three in 2022.
Crimes against property, which includes robbery, burglary, theft, fraud and vandalism, are down 12% from 5,522 in 2022 to 4,872 through 2023.
Crime statistics on the dashboard are up-to-date as of Oct. 16. However, in a presentation to the Bellevue City Council on Oct. 9, the police department’s data represented a 13% drop in year-to-date crime through Oct. 5.
Bellevue Police Chief Wendell Shirley attributed the city’s crime reduction strategies for the positive statistics in 2023.
The Bellevue Police Department’s crime reduction strategies include data-informed deployment. According to Shirley, this strategy combines data, officer experience and community feedback.
The regularly accessed data allows Bellevue police officers to monitor existing and emerging “hot spots” for crime. As part of an anti-crime initiative launched last year, police have targeted crime operations at their detected hot spots, including the downtown area’s stores and malls.
While robberies, burglaries and thefts from motor vehicles are down 26%, 24% and 25%, respectively, data presented to the city council shows other types of theft have increased.
Increased thefts include motor vehicle theft (up 26%), shoplifting (up 4%), theft from buildings (up 8%) and theft of mail (up 8%).
Andrew Popochock, assistant chief of police at the Bellevue Police Department, attributed the 26% jump in car thefts to a security flaw in certain Hyundai and Kia models. In a press release following the council presentation, the city noted that Bellevue police will offer a limited number of anti-theft devices to residents free of charge later this fall.
Despite the lessened crime rate, there are still vacancies within the department. Shirley said that the Bellevue Police Department currently has 26 vacancies, but has had over 255 applications since May.
“We can’t hire everyone and nor should we … we could probably fill our vacancies tomorrow if we just hit the checkbox, but we’re not going to do that,” Shirley said at a Bellevue City Council meeting.
Applicants looking to make lateral transfers to the Bellevue Police Department may be eligible for a $16,000 signing bonus. Lateral officers’ starting pay can be as high as $116,904 a year, along with numerous overtime opportunities.
Lateral officers relocating from out-of-state could be reimbursed up to $7,500 in moving expenses.
Entry-level officers could see their starting pay go up to $91,284 per year.
The city’s 2023 budget allocates $39.8 million for the police department’s personnel costs.