WASHINGTON — Violent and property crimes both decreased in Washington last year, according to data released by the FBI in its 2019 uniform crime report. While the state's overall statistics moved in the right direction, that performance did not hold across the board.
The FBI estimated crime statistics based on reports from 270 of the state’s 301 law enforcement agencies. The data shows violent crime dropped by about 1 percent from 2018 to 2019, while property crime went down 4.5 percent during the same period. The numbers are calculated based on the number of crimes reported per 100,000 residents.
Violent crimes are labeled as homicide, rape, robbery and aggravated assault; property crimes are listed as arson, burglary, larceny theft and motor vehicle theft.
According to the data, King County was among the exceptions for violent crime trends in 2019, with 667 crimes reported to the sheriff's office per 100,000 residents, up from 555 reported 2018 — a more than 20 percent change. Property crime, however, was slightly down. While data for 2020 is still in progress, the King County Prosecutor's Office flagged shootings as a key area of concern over the summer, finding more people were shot in six months than any of the previous four years.
Nationwide, the FBI reported a decrease in both violent and property crime from year to year. Violent crime went from a rate of 383.4 per 100,000 people in 2018 to 379.4 a year later, a decrease of about 0.5 percent. It's the third straight year violent crime decreased nationally, the FBI said.
Property crime numbers with the same control went from 2,209.8 to 2,109.9. There’s been a downward trend nationwide in this category since 2009, with a decrease of 4.1 percent from 2018 to 2019.
The nationwide downward crime trends continued into 2020, according to an overview of numbers from the first half of the year the FBI released a few weeks ago. But two subcategories in particular, murder and arson, have seen a significant increase in the six months that include the first few months of the coronavirus pandemic.
Murder and non-negligent manslaughter cases reported to the FBI by the 16,554 agencies that submitted last year’s data increased by 14.8 percent from the first half of 2019 to the same period in 2020. Arson increased by an even greater rate — 19.2 percent, the FBI said.
The FBI has issued a caution about the crime data coming in at the local levels.
Lists comparing cities and counties "do not provide insight into the numerous variables that shape crime in a given state, county, city, town, tribal area or region," the FBI said in a statement.
"These rankings lead to simplistic and/or incomplete analyses that can create misleading perceptions that adversely affect communities and their residents,” the statement continued. “Only through careful study and analyses into the range of unique conditions affecting each local law enforcement jurisdiction can data users create valid assessments of crime."