South Sound News

Tacoma police union says chief’s report on decreasing crime ‘misleads the public’

TACOMA, Wash. — The president of Tacoma’s police union wrote a letter to the Tacoma City Council, saying the city is facing unprecedented crime, but a recent update on violent crime from the Tacoma police chief that said crime had gone down was misleading.

Police Chief Avery Moore presented a report on crime data to the City Council on Nov. 1.

That report said crime had gone down 20% since July after police tried a new “hot spot” strategy.

“I’m very proud of what we did in just 90 days,” Moore told the City Council.

“TPD’s artificially narrow focus on statistical improvements in crime rates in specific locations misleads the public into believing crime is down citywide. That is far from the truth,” Tacoma Police Union IUPA Local 6 President Henry Betts said in the letter posted on the union’s Facebook page Tuesday.

The report found violent crime dropped 37% around the hot spot locations compared to the previous three months and was 12% lower than same period last year.

Betts said crime was still at unacceptable rates, with a record year for homicides, business owners facing financial losses from property crime, and too many shootings, aggravated assaults, drive-by shootings and shots fired in vulnerable neighborhoods.

In late June, a total of 13 people were shot in Tacoma over two days. One person died.

“The truth is that when officers report to work, they commonly face 50 or more pending 911 calls and this crushing demand for police services leads to the inevitable truth of delayed response times,” said Betts.

Betts said the department continues to struggle with response times because the call load is too much for the number of officers.

The union president said the department should be completely transparent and comprehensive when answering questions from the City Council and the public.

Betts said while officers acknowledge the importance of the department having a crime plan, that plan is not the only answer.

“The solution also requires an open and willing jail partner, proper police staffing, support from City Hall, and legislative fixes to ensure that crime victims are prioritized ahead of criminals,” Betts wrote in the letter.

The department revealed its new crime reduction plan in July.