Since Governor Inslee enacted a stay-at-home mandate starting on March 24, 2020, to slow the spread of COVID-19, much of Seattle has resembled a large ghost town, with businesses closed and fewer people on the streets. While many cities across the country are seeing dramatic drops in crime rates as people stay home, in the western precinct of downtown Seattle there has been a huge surge in burglaries.
According to an investigation by a local news outlet, burglaries were up 87 percent as of April 3, compared to the previous month. There are two possible factors into why this has jumped: empty business districts where officers are not patrolling as much as they used to, and the booking policy that the county adopted to lower the number of people going to jail.
King County Efforts to Reduce Incarcerated Numbers
In March 2020, King County law enforcement officials announced several steps they would take to reduce jail and prison population numbers, including releasing prisoners early, ending the work-release program, and not booking individuals for misdemeanors such as trespassing, shoplifting, and discharging a firearm.
Regarding the policy of not booking misdemeanors, one Seattle police officer said it would lead it a “free for all” as far as crime in the city. While residential burglaries have dropped, most likely due to homes being occupied 24/7 by residents, commercial burglaries have spiked.
The president of the Seattle Police Officer Guild is not shocked by the increase in burglaries:
Before COVID19, SPD's staffing numbers have been at critical and embarrassing levels to the detriment of our wonderfully diverse Seattle community. As our membership exudes professionalism on a daily basis as they serve our community, this staffing crisis has been and will continue to be a major source of concern as it pertains to public safety issues. Sadly, this reality is now even more amplified due to this awful pandemic and it's further impact on our already low staffing numbers as patrol is stretched dangerously thin.
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly brought unprecedented times for many of us. Courts are closed to in-person hearings and have scrambled to find alternate ways to still handle some cases (either through video or phone conferencing). Domestic violence is on the rise across the country, but violent crime has dropped in cities like Chicago, Atlanta, and Denver. Pollution has also dropped across the globe. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and there is a worry that the planet is facing a deep recession.
As lockdowns continue, we are all trying to figure out what the next steps should be and what our world will look like after coronavirus. If you are facing criminal charges that are serious enough to land you in jail, you need an attorney who will do everything he can to keep you out of jail. Call the Law Offices of Steve Karimi at 206-621-8777 today to learn how he can assist you, or fill out a contact form. Coronavirus may have changed a lot of things, but you still have rights that deserve to be protected.
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