Rainier Valley Residents 4x More Likely to Be Victims of Violent Crime Than North Seattleites

by A Concerned Rainier Valley Neighbor

It’s been a rough winter in the Rainier Valley. We’ve had several violent months and positive change seems to come in small spurts, if at all.

A few weeks ago, for reasons that aren’t entirely clear, concern about crime in the Rainier Valley rose to a fever pitch. Hundreds of people jammed a  Lakewood/Seward Park meeting, the mayor was bombarded with crime concerns at the Columbia City Town Hall and hundreds more marched to take back the streets of Rainier Beach.

Chances are good that you probably know at least one person who has been a victim of crime. At the same time no one outside the Rainier Valley really seems to care.

Even more stunning is the absence of concern – if not outright denial of a crime issue in the Rainier Valley – by other Seattle blogs like PubliCola.

Finally, there are widely differing impressions and reactions to crime in the Rainier Valley by those who read and comment on the RVP.

As for myself, I know that I feel markedly safer in different parts of Seattle.  I was curious as to whether this was my perception or the reality. Is there more crime?  Or are we just more aware of it? Or is just that the new folks in the Valley are less tolerant of crime?

I focused on the most dangerous crimes – assaults and robberies that include firearms – and took a look at what’s been happening in the different precincts.

This isn’t a block by block or neighborhood by neighborhood comparison, and the precinct boundaries were redrawn in early 2008, but it’s a good place to start since this is how police resources are allocated in Seattle. Depending on the level of interest, I could be convinced to dive down on more detailed basis.

The bottom line is that you are four times more likely to be robbed or assaulted with a gun in the South Precinct than the North Precinct, and it’s been that way for a long time – at least since 2008.

It’s gotten worse over the past year, bumping up to 4.7 times in 2011*. The “emergency” has been here for a long time, but it’s just now that our elected officials have chosen to recognize it.

I’ve also thrown in a comparison with New York City as it seems that they have done a great job combating crime. Based on 2010 statistics, you are 2.7 times more likely to be violently assaulted in the South Precinct as you are in New York City.

All the information I use is publicly available on the Seattle Police Department website. And the only tool I’m using for this analysis is Microsoft Excel. If you don’t believe the results, please email the editor and I’ll be happy to share the process and sources of the data so you can replicate the results.

18 comments on “Rainier Valley Residents 4x More Likely to Be Victims of Violent Crime Than North Seattleites

  1. Ugh. This is depressing. Thank you for gathering the data & writing this up, ACRVN. I’m sure it took a good chunk of time out of your sunny weekend.

  2. Numbers are always great for making a case. It would be great for you to break out the numbers in NYC, like you did Seattle. Having lived in various neighborhoods and precincts of NYC, and now the South Precinct of Seattle, I am certain that all of NYC is not safer than the South Precinct. The Upper West Side of Manhattan is does not even compare to East New York or Brownsville, Brooklyn. All of that being said, yes, there is a problem here.

  3. I too feel much safer in other parts of Seattle than my home, and it saddens me. And I’m not sure what saddens me more – the violence or the acquiescence of my neighbors.

  4. yeah– I’d want clearer numbers.
    there is a problem down here, but trying to make a case that South Seattle is more dangerous than New York (or detroit, or chicago, or st. louis or wherever) may be overstating it just a bit.

  5. Hmmm. What about slicing it across socioeconomic lines rather than geographic. Eg. What’s the risk to gangbangers in north end vs south end?

  6. I second Rainier Valley Neighbors comments about how people are in denial. The writer of this post is just holding the mirror and some people do not like what they see.

  7. Hey editor, can you change the results of your analysis to make me feel better about where I live, and so the crime will also go away?

    I enjoyed reading the responses above… “Numbers are always great for making a case.” How else can one make a case without using data? By aggressive ego? And does this method lead to things such as civilization?

    “The writer of this post is just holding the mirror and some people do not like what they see.” BINGO!
    “Hmmm. What about slicing it across socioeconomic lines rather than geographic.” How about altering the analysis to make the result come out differently?

    “yeah– I’d want clearer numbers.” Though I have no idea what those would look like if I saw them. Maybe if they agreed with my preconceived notions…

  8. @Jason: I don’t think anyone is claiming that there is not a problem here. In fact, the South Precinct to Seattle comparisons are pretty telling.

    And I’m pretty sure the RVP readership is not pretending there isn’t a crime problem in Rainier Valley (from my erstwhile reading of the blog).

    In this case, the data comparing South Seattle to all of NYC is not invalid, per se, but fails to take into account many additional factors. New York is HUGE, and I would think almost doesn’t make a valid comparison because of the size difference. Plus, if you look at NYC as a whole, you will probably find a very diverse socio-economic sample population. I would image that breakdown is quite different than what you would find in only S. Seattle.

    Is there a problem? Of course. Are there other correlating factors (causal factors) that help us understand the problem more than size of the police force? Probably, but those are not shown here.

    CRVN – thanks for the compile! As usual, when facts are shown, people want MORE facts!

  9. The biggest concern is that folks outside of this area seem to think this is to be expected. I appreciate this neighborhood and feel that my neighbors are indeed looking out for each other. The neighborhood gatherings have shown that we care. Now let’s get the police to care and we need to find who is committing these crimes and why?

  10. It’s a real shame that we’ve had such a huge disparity with the other precincts for the past few years and that the city leadership has done nothing about it.

  11. Yeah, thanks for writing this piece!
    I’ve lived in Rainier View since Nov. 2010, and since I’ve been here none of my neighbors have been burgled, mugged, pummeled, or shot, and I’ve somehow managed to escape unscathed as well. However, I’m constantly monitoring traffic – vehicle and pedestrian – in my neighborhood, and if I see anything suspicious or out of place I keep watching until I’m sure that they’re not the criminal element.
    Prior to moving to Rainier View I lived in Ballard for eight years in a nice apartment building in Old Town, and I parked in a carport underneath the building. My vehicle was broken into three times in those eight years, compared to no vehicle prowls in RV.
    Granted, I do hear gunshots in the distance (and sometimes in uncomfortably close proximity) every few months, and I think that the seriousness of the crime in the Rainier Valley is what has a lot of people on edge. Having a knife placed to one’s throat while sitting in a vehicle at the Jack In the Box drive-thru is unacceptable, and thankfully they caught that perp.
    I’d like to think that we’re all looking out for one another, and please don’t hesitate to call the police if you witness suspicious activity.

  12. Amber, Thanks for the thoughtful analysis. I’d love to read more. I think it’s stuff like you’re doing, with good DATA, that will help us get the resources we need to keep folks safe.

    I have to add, though, that even with the depressing crime statistics, I still love living here. I’ve never lived in such a friendly and inclusive neighborhood before. I love it.

    We certainly have things to work on, but we have lots to be proud of, too.

  13. @bangor: there is a good chance that some of the gunshots you are hearing are from the Seattle Police Athletic Assc located on Marginal Way. They practice shooting here and the shots reverberate through the valley. I was really concerned when I first moved here until a neighbor filled me in. I’ve lived here for 7 years now and have had my share of issues. But I try my best to be aware, be cautious and careful, know my neighbors, and most of all, not live in fear. I am nervous learning about the Trayvon Martin killing all over the news now as lack of attention to the violence in Rainier Valley causes increased fear from residents which could create vigilantes. I’ve seen evidence of it on my own neighborhood, people are tired of being afraid. Be safe out there!

  14. Thank you very much for taking the time to assemble this data and share it for us all to see. Keep up the good work!

  15. @Anna —

    I also love living here! The neighborhood is so inclusive that I let people I don’t even know borrow my car(s) and then just leave it (them) somewhere else in the valley for me to to “retrieve” later on. If that’s not neighborly, I don’t know what is.

    Oh yeah, and I also let them borrow bicycles and assorted tech items, although those haven’t been returned yet.

    Just giving you a hard time! We do also enjoy the neighborhood and people.

  16. @Erich,
    I think you’ve may have unknowingly been enrolled in the Rip Car service. iWant is also expanding in the valley. :)
    Tom T

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *