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Seattle crime dropped 9% in 2023; police chief warns statistics are incomplete

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(The Center Square) – Overall crime decreased in the city by 9% in 2023, but Seattle Police Chief Adrian Diaz warns that said statistic may not tell the whole story.

During Tuesday’s Seattle Public Safety Committee meeting, Diaz explained that statistics such as a 10% drop in property crime throughout the city are not completely accurate since many crimes against businesses go unreported.

Diaz added that the Seattle Police Department is working on setting up a new online reporting system that “allows people to actually be able to report things in a much more efficient manner.”

In a bit of good news, there was a 1% decrease in shots fired in the city from 738 in 2022 to 730 in 2023. However, Diaz noted that there was a 3% increase in injuries resulting from those shootings.

One of the more alarming crime statistics from 2023: a 23% increase in Seattle homicides at 64. According to Diaz, there have been five homicides in the Emerald City so far this year.

“That is actually a big reduction from what we’ve seen over the last several years,” Diaz said at the committee meeting.

The Seattle Police Department also continued to see staffing levels drop in 2023. According to the presentation, the number of sworn officers dropped to 1,047 in 2023 from 1,073 in 2022.

The 1,047 officers represents a record-low for the department. Despite this, there were more hires and fewer separations within the department last year compared to 2022.

Sara Nelson of the Seattle City Council said that the department needs its investigators back to address violent crime in the city. The department had to move 100 investigators back to patrol as the staff shortage worsened, she explained.

Over the last five years, the Seattle Police Department lost 715 personnel. That is just over half of the 1,424 sworn officers in the department in 2017.

The Center Square previously reported on the police officer shortage impacting the department’s overtime budget. In 2022, the Seattle Police Department spent $33.7 million on overtime, which was approximately $7.3 million more than its $26.4 million budget.

The department’s 2023 overtime budget was increased to $31.3 million in anticipation of greater overtime needs this year, but the city found it unlikely that allotment would be enough to cover the department’s overtime expenses.

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