Apr 17, 2024 - News

Seattle homicides decline, mirroring national trend

Change in year-to-date reported homicides in selected major U.S. cities, 2023 to 2024
Data: AH Datalytics; Chart: Axios Visuals

Homicides in Seattle and other major U.S. cities have fallen this year after huge jumps during the pandemic.

Why it matters: The nation is on track to see one of the lowest levels of violent crimes and homicides in a decade.

By the numbers: Seattle saw a 36% decrease in the number of homicides recorded in the first three months of 2024 — nine, compared to the 14 reported during the same period in 2023, according to AH Datalytics, a criminal justice consulting firm.

  • Detective Brian Pritchard, a spokesperson for the Seattle Police Department, told Axios that as of April 9, there have been 12 homicides in the city this year, compared to 19 in the same period in 2023.
  • Seattle's homicide tallies sometimes differ from other data sources, as SPD may include, for example, unborn children or people who were shot earlier but died this year.
  • The total number of homicides for 2023 was 73, Pritchard said.
  • For reference, there were 36 homicides in 2019 and 53 in 2020, according to the SPD crime dashboard.

The intrigue: Tacoma saw a 40% decrease in the number of homicides this year (6) compared to last (10), per the AH data.

  • That drop required cooperation between police, city leaders and citizens who are willing to share information, sometimes even before crimes occur or behaviors escalate, Tacoma Police Department spokesperson Shelbie Boyd told Axios.
  • One huge help, she said, has been the push to hire officers born or raised in the city.
  • "They bring all of their relationships — with neighbors, the people they grew up with — with them," she said.

What they're saying: It's difficult to pinpoint exactly what causes crime to decline in the U.S., but Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco told ABC News in an interview late last year that she believes increased federal assistance to local law enforcement agencies is partially responsible.

The big picture: The percentage of homicides in 204 cities declined by nearly 20% during the first three months of 2024 compared to the same period last year, per AH Datalytics.

  • At this pace, the homicide rate in the U.S. could match its level in 2014, when many cities saw 30-year lows in violent crime and homicides.
  • FBI data and numbers from police agencies show crime has been steadily declining since the pandemic spike.
  • AH Datalytics calculated its data using the latest available crime numbers from local and state sources.

Reality check: Some cities, including Los Angeles, saw homicide increases in the first three months of 2024, and polls show crime remains a top concern among voters ahead of the 2024 election.

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