TACOMA, Wash. — After months of planning, Tacoma Police Chief Avery Moore unveiled his Crime Reduction Plan to the City Council on Tuesday.
Chief Moore was hired for the role late last year when the city was seeing a sharp rise in assaults, vehicle thefts, and homicides.
That trend has intensified in 2022, with 25 homicides in Tacoma this year, compared to 31 in 2021.
Moore’s plan is broken up into three parts.
In the beginning, Tacoma PD will adopt a hot-spot policing strategy, meaning officers will be highly visible in areas with higher levels of criminal activity, and have the lights of their patrol cars on for 15 minutes at a time during hours when crime is thought to occur. The strategy will be implemented for 90 days, then reviewed and adjusted if needed.
The emphasis on high-visibility policing is a sharp reversal from the recent approach to policing in Tacoma, which Moore said possibly led to a rise in violent crime.
“House Bill 1310 did have an impact, and the impact was, we couldn’t do policing anymore,” Moore explained to the Council. “So, a lack of visibility, I think, really was the issue. If you don’t see police officers, sometimes you feel emboldened to do something you wouldn’t normally do if you saw police officers. So, if I could pinpoint one thing, it’s just a lack of visibility.”
Longer-term strategies will focus on addressing the underlying conditions that lead to crime in these areas, including problem-oriented strategies tailored to those locations, and a focused deterrence approach by partnering with community organizations to offer alternatives in the forms of services, resources and outreach.
Pastor James Wilcox said he’s excited to see the police chief reach out to community groups.
“We meet people, sometimes at the very lowest of where they’re at in their life,” Wilcox said. “How can we reach out to them with compassion and love, and know that we’re helping? And to bring that whole perspective into this whole conversation, I think, will be beneficial for the community as a whole.”
During the study sessions, Council members highlighted Tacoma’s problematic past when it came to over-policing and profiling in the city’s Black and Brown neighborhoods.
James Watson said he appreciated Chief Moore recognizing that past.
“I appreciated the Chief’s honesty and candidness, and just noting that we have a long way to go to regain the trust of our community,” Watson said. “Right now, there’s so much distrust in our city, and we’re dealing with the results of that. So, I’m excited to see the community engagement part of all this.”
Candace Wesley of Tacoma Cease Fire said while there’s no perfect plan, this can be the start of bringing the city to a better place, as long as the community is involved in the process.
“This is the first time that in my history as a community member in Tacoma that there is a plan implemented that is going to include the input and experiences of community members,” said Wesley. “As long as we keep community members as stakeholders, as long as we keep community members at the forefront of our mind, we can continue to stand up to the reputation of us being the city of destiny.”