by Maia Segura
Let’s just take a deep breath and get some perspective.
We all agree that the sweet Hays were brutally beaten by a psychopath. This guy is still out there, and this is NOT OK on any level. The outpouring of support has made it clear that the community is mortified, and solidified in being behind the Hays. But it is critical to keep this in perspective, and be clear that this terrifying incident does not define us as a community. This kind of brutality does not happen down here every day, and the South Precinct is not the most crime-ridden place in the city.
In fact, South Precinct is ranked 2/5 for FEWEST Major Crime incidents compared to all Seattle precincts, according to SPD Major Crime statistics for January 1st through October 31st, 2014 – the most recent information available.
Comparing year over year 2014 to 2013:
Strikingly, homicide in the South Precinct January – October 2014 was DOWN 71%, as was robbery, slightly, at 3%.
But the trends overall are not positive. South Precinct is definitely up on homicides year over year for December 2014 and January 2015 with one incident each month, over zero incidents in both months last year.
Where the Southend is really in trouble is with shots fired, which are far higher than the rest of the city, and up 48% year over year. Rape is also up at 15 incidents in 2014, over 4 in 2013 – but while even a single rape is a completely unacceptable tragedy, the South Precinct incidents are almost half of the number of incidents of each the North & West Precincts. No matter how you slice it, these are not good indicators.
For net change, Southwest is the only precinct that is down in crime (-16% overall), but is up in homicide (+100%…to be fair that includes a single incident in 2014 and 0 in 2013) and rape (+150%).
All other precincts are up in crime year over year:
North Precinct +15%
West Precinct +12%
East Precinct +18%
South Precinct +18%
But to keep this in perspective, the South Precinct does, indeed, have fewer major crime incidents than any precinct besides the SW:
11% fewer than East
49% fewer than West
57% fewer than North
Additionally, breaking it down, South Precinct does not lead the city in ANY of the major crime categories.
Even if you just look at violent crime, the South Precinct ranks 3/5 (as of October) in incidents of homicide, rape, and aggravated assault. While the south precinct is 2/5 for robbery, the net incidents are down 3% this year.
While it is moderately reassuring that we are not the most dangerous place in the city, we should not be complacent. The trend is moving in the wrong direction. We cannot, and should not, accept this as a community. There are well-documented crime hotspots where the majority of the incidents occur. The community is not just sitting back and letting this happen. There are community-led, data-driven, grant-funded initiatives in the works to combat these hotspots in Rainier Beach head-on. More on that soon.
In the meantime, there are infinite ways to interpret data – literally. In the end, though, this terrifying incident does NOT define our community. Positive, intentional activity throughout Mt. Baker, Hillman City, Othello, Skyway and Rainier Beach has brought us together as stronger communities. We cannot, and should not, let this incident overshadow the hard work done by so many for so long, that has unleashed a tidal wave of great energy and good things that are happening, right here, right now.
PLEASE don’t take my word for the stats. Check out the SeaStat slides on the bottom of the page here: http://www.seattle.gov/police/Seastat/default.htm
Maia Segura is a Rainier Beach resident