TACOMA, Wash. - The latest crime data shows that as of last week, Tacoma has seen a 50% increase in homicides and 90% increase in property theft over the last year.
On Tuesday, however, Tacoma Police presented new data from their 'hotspot' patrols, which they say has shown a marked drop in violent crime in targeted areas.
City leaders say a selective, new kind of enforcement is making the difference.
Tacoma Police Chief Avery Moore said the good news comes from the new Tacoma Violent Crime Prevention Plan, aimed at reducing surging amounts of crime in the city.
Over the past few months, the Tacoma Police have been targeting 16 hot spots where reports of violence are prevalent. In those areas where patrols have been assigned, violent crime has dropped by about 30%, according to Moore.
During Tuesday's Tacoma City Council Study Session, Chief Moore rolled out the results of what's happened following the launch of the patrol program in July.
"Very proud of what we’ve done in just 90 days," said Chief Moore.
The patrol officers focused on the 16 addresses from July 6–Oct. 6. Most of the addresses were located in business areas, said Moore. He said that officers made themselves visible in those locations by using their lights. He said they stay there for at least 15 minutes during the assigned patrol.
"Overall, we have shown a crime reduction as it relates to the violent crime—which was what we were targeting," explained Moore. "Based on days and time that we found that violent crime was most prevalent, we deployed officers, and they were there."
Police partnered with criminologists at the University of Texas to determine which spots to patrol. Professor of Criminology Mike Smith was on hand Tuesday to assist in presenting findings to the city council. He said criminologists tracked three main offenses: murder, robbery and aggravated assault.
"If you compare the [metrics], it shows you what crime was like last spring to what it was this spring, and that’s a pretty large increase," said Smith, pointing to a graphic.
Year-to-date, the numbers can be quite shocking depending on what data set you are looking at. Recent data released from Tacoma Police and the city show that homicides in certain areas have gone up 90%–100% since 2021.
Smith said targeted patrols could be the key to reducing the numbers in the months ahead.
"The treatment is a high visibility treatment. TPD places patrol cars within the line of sight if these addresses for 15-minute periods during peak crime hours," said Smith. "You may have a peak crime hour between 8 p.m. or 9 p.m., and another one from 2 in the morning to 3 in the morning, or something like that. It varies from address to address."
Smith said after the plan was implemented in Tacoma in July of this year, the number of violent crimes in the target areas dropped.
"Crime dropped from an average of 16 offenses per month down to about 10 per month, which is actually lower than the same period last year," said Smith.
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Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards said the numbers in the report are hopeful, but there is more that needs to be done. Woodards said the city and the council need to do more to improve the community's perception of safety.
"We really have to continue to address things like alternative response for mental health, creating community safety officers. So, there’s other things as a city we need to do," said Mayor Woodards.
The targeted patrols will continue in the coming weeks. The chief said the data will be evaluated again after a 60-day period.