Northwest NEWS

September 14, 1998

Local News

Northshore, Valley crime rates drop

   by Andrew Walgamott
   Staff reporter

   There were fewer murders last year, though crime across the state rose to its highest levels in a decade, according to the Washington Association of Sheriff's and Police Chiefs.
   But Northshore and the Snoqualmie Valley cities bucked state trends with fewer crime index offenses in 1997, the association's annual report says.
   The voluntary report reveals numbers for crimes such as murder, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, arson, burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft which together represent the crime index. The first four are considered violent crimes while the latter four are known as property crimes.
   The report compares '97 figures with '96.
   In Woodinville, a drop in rape, burglary, larceny and auto theft led to a 23 percent decline in crime index offenses. In '97, just over 48 residents out of every 1,000 were victims of crimes, down from 63 residents per 1,000 the year before. There were 484 crime index offenses last year.
   But violent crimes in Woodinville rose 31.3 percent, largely due to a 120 percent increase in the number of aggravated assaults. There were 11 last year compared to five the year before.
   "I'm pleased to see the overall percentage of crime drop in the city," said Woodinville Police Chief Ken Wardstrom. "That's obviously our goal." Explaining the doubling of aggravated assaults that occurred in 1997, he noted that cities with low numbers of crime can have drastic increases in percentages from year to year with just a few incidents.
   Bothell crime index offenses dropped 4.5 percent (941 offenses), though violent crimes there rose 28.6 percent. That was due to 10 more robberies (23 total) that occurred in '97.
   Duvall was the most peaceful of local cities with no murders, rapes, robberies, assaults or arsons, according to the report. The city had 38 total offenses, down from 73 the year before, the report shows. Carnation did not report in 1997.
   Even though there were 651 more crime index offenses in King County as a whole, the violent crime rate held steady at 5 per 1,000 while property crimes dipped seven-tenths of a percent to 67.6 percent per 1,000.
   In Snohomish County there were nearly 6,000 more total offenses, led by a jump of almost 4,000 more larcenies and 1,366 more auto thefts.
   The report gives a picture of what crime is doing statewide, according to Tracy Gardner, Uniform Crime Report manager. "Overall, crime did go up 3.6 percent. Murder was the only offense that decreased."
   She said over the last decade crime was at its highest in 1997. Gardner said that while this is a voluntary program, about 97 to 98 percent of the population statewide is covered in the report.
   Statistics from individual Washington agencies ranging from city, port and university police as well as county sheriff's offices will be included in a national report, she said.
   Gardner said a copy will also go to the Washington legislature, and criminal justice funding from the state treasurer will be divvied up to individual agencies based on the report.
   A glance at the report might lead one to believe that Tukwila is the most violent and crime-ridden place in King and Snohomish counties, but that may not be entirely true.
   While it has a population of around 15,000, that swells during the daytime to 100,000 due to South Center Mall, Gardner said. Without this information, the report shows that nearly one out of every four residents was a victim of a crime index crime, a rate at which only the city of Lynnwood (nearly one out of every ten) approaches in either county.