Murders Surge To Record High In Washington State

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The number of murders surged to a record high in Washington state as the number of police officers fell, according to a Monday report by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC).

The number of murders increased to 394 in 2022, a 16.6% spike from 2021 and the most in a single year since the WASPC began recording the data in 1980, according to its annual Crime in Washington (CIW) report. The state shed 70 commissioned officers, the total number declining to 10,666, even as the state’s population climbed by roughly 93,000 to around 7.86 million.

The number of violent crimes increased by 8.9% compared to 2021, while the population of the state increased by just 1.2%, according to data from the 2022 and 2021 CIW reports. Compared to 2019, the number of murders has increased by more than 92%, while the state’s population has grown just 4.2%.

“Other data may show crime has decreased in some parts of the United States but overall crime in Washington has continued to rise,” WASPC Executive Director Steven D. Strachan said in a press release accompanying the report. “The data in this latest report should be used by policy makers to continue to develop balanced approaches that respect victims of crime and increase safety for all Washingtonians.”

With just 1.35 officers per thousand residents, Washington ranked the lowest of all 50 states and the District of Columbia in officers per thousand residents in 2022, Strachan said, citing data from the FBI’s Crime Data Explorer.

Seattle, Washington, was a key location for Black Lives Matter protests in 2020 and gained national attention for the Capitol Hill Occupied Protest zone, which was described as “lawless and brutal” by then-Police Chief Carmen Best. In 2022, Seattle saw its highest crime rates in 15 years with a 24% surge in homicides, according to the Seattle Police Department. (RELATED: Dem-Led City Reports Highest Violent Crime Rate In 15 Years After Defunding Police)

Statewide, assaults on police officers rose 20.7% year-over-year to 2,375 instances in 2022, with two officers dying in the line of duty, according to the WASPC. Arrests for drugs and narcotics violations fell from 2,163 in 2021 to 1,444 in 2022, a 33.2% decline even as the number of reported incidents increased from 6,216 in 2021 to 6,995 in 2022.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee signed a law in May that made drug possession a gross misdemeanor punishable by up to six months of jail time for the first two offenses, but also instructed prosecutors and police to divert cases to treatment services, the Associated Press reported. Prior to the signing of that law, police were required to refer offenders to treatment for their first two offenses.

Compared to 2021, crimes against persons were up 4.9% statewide, while crimes against property and society were up 9.8% and 3%, respectively, each outpacing population growth, according to the WASPC. Motor vehicle theft soared by 34%, up more than 12,000 instances to roughly 47,450.

Inslee’s office and the WASPC Criminal Justice Information Support Department — which compiled the report — did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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