Tacoma mayor, police chief to host study sessions discussing violent crimes increase

Tacoma is beloved as the "City of Destiny," and its leaders are trying to curb a concerning increase of violent crimes to uphold its good name. 

"We have to look at the reality of what’s happening on our streets. We need to put the patrols there and we need officers who are engaged, who are known to the community, who have built those relationships and we’re looking at officers to engage in that type of community policing that helps prevent crime," said City Councilmember Lillian Hunter representing Position 6.

Hunter and councilmembers Robert Thoms and Conor McCarthy are calling on more police presence across all of Tacoma towards safer neighborhoods.

In a letter they wrote to the mayor and city manager, they said there were more homicides in 2020 than in the past 26 years. They also mentioned, "The number of dangerous fires ravaging Tacoma by arsonists are skyrocketing."

"It’s more than an uptick. We had 193% increase in arsons in just the past three months. Our city is literally on fire," said Hunter.

The councilmembers said they wrote a similar letter in April 2020 with concerns from constituents and their requests for more patrols to help reduce crime.

"We hear that there’s money in the budget for this or efforts are happening. We don’t see the tangible results of what’s on the streets here," said Hunter.

Several streets have seen a violent summer this year. The Tacoma Police Department said there have been 17 homicides so far in 2021.

Mayor Victoria Woodards said it’s a "complex issue," as Tacoma is not untouched by this national crisis. 

She said a study session with the city manager and police chief is scheduled for Aug. 24 to, "provide an update on what has been done, current efforts underway, and foundational information to ensure shared understanding as we work to address rising crime in our community."

RELATED: City of Tacoma sees spike in car thefts in 2021

Hunter said she hopes the conversation encourages all leaders to be proactive in reshaping the city’s destiny.

"I don’t want to wait until a crime has been committed and then, man, we’re going to hammer somebody. I want to take steps and put the process in place so that citizens feel confident when they call the police and that we work with the police," said Hunter.

The police department said the chief will be discussing the topic further during study session on Aug. 17. The meeting will be televised. 

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