Mayoral challenger Ed Murray invited reporters to a press conference last week to roll out his new public-safety agenda, partly in response to what he called a "public safety crisis."
"It is a crisis of crime in the streets," said the state senator, before pivoting, as politicians do during election years, to take a swing at his opponent. "The mayor says crime is down," Murray said, when, in fact, "violent crime is up."
But overall, crime dropped citywide 6.9 percent in the first seven months of this year compared to those same months last year, according to a city council analysis of violent crime and theft. Crime is down 12.4 percent since 2009. Murray is wrong about violent crime, too, which is down less than 1 percent since last year and down 6.5 percent since 2009. Those declines are even more pronounced when accounting only for serious violence, which is down 4 percent since last year and 9.5 percent since 2009, according to data from the Seattle Police Department.
And if you look at the seven policing beats covering what is considered downtown—including the retail core, the central business district, Belltown, the International District, Pioneer Square, and Lower Queen Anne—serious violent crime has dropped 5 percent since last year. If you include South Lake Union, it's down 8 percent.
In fact, major crimes, as classified by the FBI's uniform crime-reporting standards—including murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, larceny, and vehicle theft—are at their lowest levels in Seattle for 30 years.
So what is the "public safety crisis"?