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Deadly weekend in Renton spotlights increasing crime in the city

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(The Center Square) – Renton officials are discussing ways to improve public safety in the area as violent crime rates continue.

Overall crime in Renton increased by 6.4% from 2021 to 2022, according to a report from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. There were 7,852 reports of crime in 2021 and 8,353 in 2022.

One noticeable statistic from the report is the 133% increase in murders within Renton’s city limits. There were three murders in 2021 and seven in 2022.

Following three separate shootings that occurred on the weekend of July 15, there have been four homicides within the city so far this year, according to Renton Police Chief Jon Schuldt.

Of Washington cities with populations between 100,000 and 250,000, Renton had the eighth-highest crime rate per 1,000 residents, with 1.35 in 2022. The seven cities of similar populations with higher crime rates are Bellevue (1.38), Kent (1.51), Tacoma (1.64), Federal Way (1.65), Spokane (1.86), and Everett (1.97).

On Monday, Schuldt updated members of the Renton Public Safety Committee on the recent shootings, saying they were gang-related.

Schuldt added that staffing within the Renton Police Department is increasing over the year. As of Monday, the department has 126 of the 133 budgeted officers for this year. There are currently 107 deployable officers.

The department added four commissioned positions dedicated to a new policing district in the city’s downtown core in the 2023-2024 budget. The goal is to restore a sense of safety in the community’s central hub through a more dedicated police presence. This will cost an estimated $619,564 to fill the four positions in 2023.

The recent retirement of a police officer has caused the department to search for a supervisor to be in charge of the new downtown policing district, according to Schuldt.

The Renton Police Department makes up 18% of the city’s $581.2 million in expenditures, with approximately $49.8 million in 2023 and $51.3 million in 2024.

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