Pierce Co. Exec addresses crime and homelessness in State of the County address

Pierce County faced one of its most violent and crime-filled years on record in 2022.

Specifically, homicides and property crimes spiked, while law enforcement left the county and profession in mass.

The community is looking for answers. 

Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier on Wednesday responded to these issues during his State of the County address.

"I talked last year about an epidemic of lawlessness that I was seeing in Pierce County. That epidemic is still here today. There is no question about that. I'm sure you have all seen it. You've all felt it," said Dammeier.

Pierce County Sheriff’s Department officials tell FOX 13 News they responded to 25 homicides in 2022.

One of those deaths was one of their own. Deputy Dom Calata was shot in the line of duty exactly one year ago. Dammeier spoke on the heartbreaking loss during his address.

"Dom Calata represents the best this community has to offer," said Dammeier. "We must never forget what Dom did for our community, and we must never forget his wife, Erin, or son, Dylan."

Dammeier says the violence and crime extends throughout the county.

He spoke on seeing it firsthand, taking advantage of the homeless communities in the county.

"You can’t think about chronic homelessness in Pierce County and not think of Jefferson Matthews," he said. "Jefferson Matthews was in a camp just off Tacoma Mall Boulevard when he was brutally murdered," he added.

Dammeier referring to a February incident in Tacoma where a 26-year-old man and his dog were killed in a shooting at an encampment.

There has been efforts over the last year to combat these issues.

Dammeier talked about his focus on strengthening the resources within the ranks of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department after staffing numbers dropped.

In 2022, the county offered thousands in incentives to deputies to stay on staff, and offered thousands for new recruits joining the force.

Dammeier says they are now seeing recruits from across the country joining the department.

Dammeier also addressed efforts to combat the homeless crisis.

He talked about the county’s consideration to create a $22 million micro community, called Pierce County Village, for people in need of housing.

"It is about bringing hope, dignity, and purpose to people who are today, trapped in homelessness," he said.

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To watch his entire state of the county address click here.