In a recent email update, I illustrated the increase in Pierce County crime rates as stolen vehicles more than doubled from 435 in December 2020 to 915 in December of 2021. Since then, stolen vehicle numbers have remained high, with a total of 905 in January and 919 in February. You will see below that this trend goes beyond stolen vehicles as we are seeing alarming increases in other categories of crime (according to statistics provided by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department):
- Homicide: In 2019, there were 12 homicide victims. In 2020, there were 14. In 2021, there were 23. By March 1, 2022, just a couple months into the year, there were already 21.
- Commercial/business burglaries: More than doubled from 82 in January 2021 to 170 in January 2022.
- Armed robbery: More than quadrupled from four in February 2021 to 19 in February 2022.
- Firearm involved crime (homicide, rape, assault, and robbery): Nearly tripled from 16 in February 2021 to 45 in February 2022.
It is clear to me that this increase in crime can be attributed in part to the passage of state legislation last year that severely limited the ability of law enforcement professionals to do their jobs. Fortunately, during the 2022 legislative session, the legislature made some adjustments to reforms that were enacted last year. However, I believe that the legislature came up short by not passing Senate Bill 5919. SB 5919 would have amended a vehicle pursuit policy passed in 2021 by allowing law enforcement professionals to pursue suspects once again in a variety of cases. Without the fix to last year’s legislation on police pursuits, I worry that we will continue to see a brazen disregard for law and a greater risk to public safety.
Prioritizing Public Safety
Coming out of a recent Council retreat, the Pierce County Council has made public safety a priority for 2022. For my part, I believe that public safety should be Pierce County’s number one
budget and policy priority.
We currently have 50 vacancies
for deputy positions in the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department, and I worry that this number will only grow if we don’t act quickly.
Here are three things we can do in the short term to keep that number from growing even further:
- Fund $10,000 retention bonuses for Sheriff’s deputies in our upcoming supplemental budget. I described the retention bonus proposal in a previous email update, and I am hopeful that the Council will fund these bonuses this month.
- Provide additional resources for deputy wellness and mental health. For more on the importance of deputy wellness, I encourage you to watch a video of a presentation in the County Council’s Public Safety Committee from last year.
- Get the word out about the need for Sheriff’s Deputies. If you or someone you know is interested in applying with the Sheriff’s Department, please contact recruiters today at 253-798-4324 or at [email protected]. For more information, please visit the Sheriff website.
What’s on your mind?
Please contact me with any concerns or ideas you have anytime. You can reach me by phone at 253-798-2222 or send me an email at [email protected].
All the best,