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With shootings at all-time high, Seattle mayor directs police to focus on crime hotspots

Mayor Bruce Harrell made public safety one of the key topics of his campaign in 2021.

SEATTLE — Over the last two years, Seattle has seen a steep rise in crime, especially violent crime involving guns. 

Mayor Bruce Harrell held a briefing Friday morning with Seattle Police Interim Chief Adrian Diaz, Seattle Fire Chief Harold Scoggins and the rest of his executive team to address ways in which the city is tackling what he called the “elevated level of violent crime.”

Illustrating the issue, Harrell shared how the sharp increase in crime that occurred in 2020 continued its steep incline through 2021.

Harrell said that compared to 2020, last year saw aggravated assaults increase 24%, shootings and shots fired incidents increased 42% to an all-time high and violent crimes increased an overall 20%, hitting the highest level in 24 years.

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Diaz also revealed that overall crime was up 10% in 2021 over the previous year, adding that homelessness-related shootings and shots fired incidents went up 122% annually.  

Harrell said his answer to the increase in crime over the course of January and beyond was to direct Diaz to initially focus on so-called hotspots where crime has been concentrated and to focus on the “relatively few” criminals causing the most harm, especially those using guns.

“An excellent example of this has been happening in Little Saigon at 12th Avenue South in Jackson Street. For those that work and live around here, you know exactly what I'm talking about,” Harrell said.

In 21 days in January, officers made 23 felony arrests, 14 misdemeanor arrests, recovered stolen property during 24 incidents, seized narcotics during 10 incidents and engaged with shop owners at and around the intersection on more than 100 interactions.

Harrell promised that these efforts will spread citywide and into Seattle neighborhoods.

“In Seattle, we will not tolerate violent crimes targeting our most vulnerable people,” he said. “We will not tolerate organized retail theft which has become rapid in Seattle, causing businesses to close and leave our city. It's as simple as that. We will not tolerate that.”

Additionally, Senior Deputy Mayor Monisha Harrell said the city is looking at other avenues to provide emergency services that do not necessarily involve the police or fire department.

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