Seattle police chief says this year’s crime rates are “unprecedented,” number of officers at record lows

Seattle police chief says this year’s crime rates are “unprecedented,” number of officers at record lows
Amanda Snyder/The Seattle Times via AP, Pool
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The Police Chief of Seattle, Adrian Diaz, pleaded for “guns [to be] put down,” on Tuesday as the city and country continue to experience record-high increases in shootings. 

In a meeting with community leaders at Emerald City Bible Fellowship Church, Diaz said he was concerned with the wave of violent crime sweeping the city, Komo News reported. “This last year and a half, I don’t see it slowing down,” Diaz said. “I need those guns put down.”

Even the halls where the meeting took place have seen bloodshed, with Omari Wallice, a father, being shot and killed there in March. 

“In many ways, we’re killing each other like flies and that is not how it’s supposed to be,” said Pastor Harvey Drake, also noting that the increase in violent crime is how people value human life. 

“At some point, we have to help people understand how to revalue each other,” Pastor Drake said.

“We’re desperate right now, you know, we can’t have one more shooting,” said Victoria Beach, SPD African American Community Advisory Chair."

According to the King County Prosecutor’s Office, police have responded to 68 murders or killings that involve shooting or stabbing so far this year. The number is two shy of the total of 69 murders and killings seen in the entire of 2016, 90 in 2019, and 146 in 2020. 

“What we’re seeing this year is unprecedented. I haven’t seen this many shootings in over a decade,” Diaz said last week, according to KIRO 7.

“We need to stop the shootings. We need to put down the guns. For us, we need to be able to take some of those guns off the street. We need to heal as a community,” Diaz continued. “The police department has to heal with the community. We can’t be at odds with the community.”

Diaz stated that law enforcement has focused primarily on removing illegal guns from city streets, noting that the city has lost almost 275 officers since 2020. He also adds that the staff shortages have played a part in how the police balance patrols, criminal activity and community relationships, which Diaz notes is critical to combating gun violence. 

“When you have relationships, people are always wanting to talk about what’s going on in the community and that helps solve crime,” Diaz said.

“We are at record lows in the city right now. I have about 1,080 deployable officers. This is the lowest I’ve seen our department,” Diaz previously said regarding the shortage, according to the Associated Press, later adding, “I’m hoping that it starts to level off. I do see that this year we could have a significant amount of people leaving.”

Last year, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan supported budget cuts to the police department, saying that she “applauds the City Council for taking a more deliberate and measured approach to the 2021 Seattle Police Department budget.”

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