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Crime stats show Federal Way's ups and downs in 2008
Federal Way saw a jump in violent crime last year, but experienced an overall decrease in its crime rate.
Crime in Washington 2008 Annual Report — information recently released by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC) — documents "part one crime" that took place last year in Washington. The information is collected annually as part of the Uniform Crime Reporting Program. It is used to identify patterns of crime.
Each city's crime rate is calculated according to the number of part one crimes, defined as violent crime such as murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery and aggravated assault. The rate also includes property crime, burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.
In 2008, Federal Way's crime rate dropped 5 percent, according to the WASPC information. Federal Way experienced significant increases in some aspects of crime and notable decreases in other areas.
In 2007, a total of 5,143 part one crimes were reported in Federal Way, according to the WASPC. In 2008, the number dropped to 4,885, according to the same information. The data shows Federal Way as a city that is safer than many onlookers tend to think it is, police spokeswoman Cathy Schrock said.
"We're sensitive in Federal Way," Schrock said. "It's not as bad as (people) think."
By the numbers
More homicides, robberies, aggravated assaults and burglaries took place in 2008 than in the previous year. According to the WASPC information, following are the areas of crime that surged:
• Homicides (+166.7 percent of change, from three cases in 2007 to eight in 2008)
• Robberies (+31.8 percent of change, from 129 cases in 2007 to 170 in 2008)
• Aggravated assaults (+7.5 percent of change, from 107 cases in 2007 to 115 in 2008)
• Burglaries (+8.3 percent of change, from 739 cases in 2007 to 800 in 2008)
Some of the increases were unique to Federal Way, compared to other regional cities that reported information and compared to Federal Way's past reported numbers. Other increases were seen throughout the region.
This past year set Federal Way's record for the number of homicides taking place annually, according to information provided by the Federal Way police. The city has experienced an average of 3.7 homicides yearly since 1998, data showed. In 2006, there were six reported homicides and in 2000, seven took place, according to the Federal Way police data. Other years saw much lower numbers.
Burglaries, robberies and aggravated assaults increased in most of the region's reporting cities, according to the WASPC data. The number of burglaries jumped, from 2007 to 2008, in Tacoma, Auburn, Bellevue, Federal Way, Tukwila and Kent, according to the WASPC data.
Federal Way also saw favorable drops in some areas of crime. According to the WASPC information, the city experienced decreased crime rates in the following categories:
• Rape (-37.5 percent of change, from 48 cases in 2007 to 30 in 2008)
• Arson (-31.6 percent of change, from 19 cases in 2007 to 13 in 2008)
• Larceny (-7.2 percent of change, from 3,159 cases in 2007 to 2,933 in 2008)
• Motor vehicle theft (-13.1 percent of change, from 939 cases in 2007 to 816 in 2008)
In a statewide comparison of all reporting cities with populations between 50,000 and 100,000, Federal Way's crime rate places as fourth best in the state and second in Western Washington, according to the Federal Way police information. Last year's crime rate was the lowest Federal Way has experienced since 2000, according to the same data.
"The members of the Federal Way Police Department are pleased to report the overall crime reduction in 2008," according to a prepared statement by the police. "More work needs to be done and we are committed to working with our citizens and other stakeholders to make Federal Way a safe and secure community for community and business."
Check it out
To view a copy of the Crime in Washington 2008 Annual Report and compare Federal Way to neighboring jurisdictions, visit the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs Web site at www.waspc.org/index.php. Click the tab that reads "crime statistics."