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FBI reports decline in crime; Federal Way still has hotspots
The FBI released its annual Crime in the United States report for American cities last month, with national trends for both violent and property crime continuing downward.
According to the FBI's statistics, violent crime fell for the fifth year in a row, dropping 4.5 percent (for every 100,000 people). Property crime fell for the ninth year in a row by 1.3 percent, according to the FBI.
Six of the seven categories the FBI monitors also saw decreases nationally. The seventh category that didn't see a decrease, burglaries, saw a slight increase of 1.3 percent nationally.
In Washington state, the downward trend also continued. At the state level, the FBI found that, of cities with populations of 100,000 or more:
• The rate of violent crime decreased 6 percent (per 100,000 people) and property crime rate decreased by 3.4 percent (per 100,000 people)
• Seattle saw decreases in the number of robberies, larceny-thefts, and motor vehicle thefts. Murder/non-negligent manslaughter increased by one from 19 to 20 between 2010 and 2011, while increases occurred in the number of rapes, aggravated assaults and burglaries in Washington's largest city.
• Tacoma saw decreases in the number of murder/non-negligent homicides, rapes, robberies, aggravated assaults, burglaries and larceny-thefts. The only category with an increase for Federal Way's southern neighbor was in auto theft.
In Federal Way, crime was at its lowest since the city's inception in 1995. For Federal Way, relevant statistics included:
• The total number of index crimes in 2011 was 4,509, while Federal Way's total number of index crimes in 2010 was 5,046, a reduction of 10.6 percent
• The total number of property crimes in 2011 was 4,264, a 9.7 percent reduction from 2010's total of 4,721 property crimes in Federal Way
• Robberies: 111 (2011) vs. 152 (2010), a 27 percent reduction.
• Murders: 3 (2011) vs. 5 (2010).
• Forcible rape: 35 (2011) vs. 50 (2010).
• Aggravated assault: 96 (2011) vs. 118 (2010).
• Burglary: 700 (2011) vs. 828 (2010).
• Larceny: 2,884 (2011) vs. 3,141 (2010).
• Motor vehicle theft: 669 (2011) vs. 741 (2010), a 9.7 percent reduction.
With budget crunches leading to an 11 percent reduction in Federal Way Police Department's staffing levels over the past two years, Police Chief Brian Wilson said he was pleased with his department's ability to keep crime down.
“I can’t be more pleased with my staff, both commissioned, and non-commissioned, in how resilient, committed and effective they are,” Wilson said in a report to the Federal Way City Council in November of last year.
Hotspots in Federal Way
While the numbers overall for the city are positive, for some area residents, it doesn't feel as though crime has gone down.
One "hotspot" of activity in the Federal Way police blotter seems to be the Club Palisades Apartments, 2211 S. Star Lake Road. The apartment complex is one of the largest in the state with more than 700 units and more than 2,000 residents.
In August, a man was robbed at gunpoint over a Samsung Galaxy tablet device. Earlier that month, a disgruntled ex-boyfriend broke into his ex-girlfriend's apartment, ransacked it and wrote all over the walls. In January, a juvenile attempted grand theft auto, but was observed and stopped before being able to complete the crime.
More recently, for Club Palisades tenant Mark Provost, gunshots have been a problem. In recent weeks, Provost said there have been shootings or people unlawfully discharging firearms.
"Last weekend, (Nov. 3-4), I think there were two shootings. And last night, (Nov. 8), I don't think anybody got shot, but there was a gun discharge," Provost said, as he described the events of Nov. 8. He continued. "The police were here for a hit-and-run on a car. They left, and right after they left, the gun went off. Security heard it, and the police heard it, and they came back."
"It's just crazy every day," he added.
Several tenants in Club Palisades have posted feedback, both positive and negative, at apartmentratings.com. In one of several responses, Club Palisades management reports that the apartment complex has strict guidelines and criteria for prospective tenants. In October, the apartment complex management posted that "we will have a new courtesy patrol company and we will be increasing the foot patrol in the complex."
Crime at the budget motels on Pacific Highway South has decreased significantly over the past decade when Federal Way police assigned officers to specifically patrol that stretch of Pacific Highway between S. 330th St. and S. 336th St. Police credit a continual presence in the area, along with cooperation from motel management, for reducing crime related to drugs and prostitution.