Officials express alarm over rise in violent crime in unincorporated Pierce County

Gun crime trends in unincorporated Pierce County have officials concerned.

According to data presented to the Pierce County Public Safety Committee, there have been a total of 58 firearm-related crimes in unincorporated Pierce County by March 2024. The month of March alone accounted for 20 of these incidents.

During Monday’s committee meeting, Pierce County Councilmember Paul Herrera expressed his deep concern regarding the high numbers. He emphasized the importance of addressing this issue due to its alarming nature.

The 20 cases in March alone were a cause for concern, according to Herrera. However, when comparing the first three months of 2024 to the preceding three years, it is evident that the rate of firearm-involved crimes has actually decreased.

In 2022, the number of firearm-involved crimes averaged 37 during the first three months. In 2023, this number decreased to 29. However, in 2024, the average for the same period dropped to 19.

As of Monday, there have been a total of six homicides in unincorporated Pierce County this year.

Patti Jackson, Chief of Patrol in Pierce County, emphasizes the gravity of the situation. She urges the community to unite and take proactive measures to combat crime.

Crime rates in unincorporated Pierce County saw a significant surge following the summer 2021 Blake decision, which declared the state’s felony drug possession law as unconstitutional. However, a permanent legislative solution was implemented in 2023 to rectify this issue and address the criminality associated with drug possession and use in Washington.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department caters to over 400,000 residents living in the unincorporated areas of the county. This makes it the second-largest population after the City of Seattle, which boasts over 720,000 residents.

The sheriff’s department currently has a staffing rate of 0.54 deputies per 1,000 residents, making it the second lowest staffed law enforcement agency in Washington. The University Place Police Department holds the lowest staffing rate at 0.45 per 1,000 residents.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Office has seen a significant increase in new hires from 2022 to 2024, with a total of 78 individuals joining the team during this period. Notably, 12 new hires have already been made in the current year. This demonstrates the agency’s commitment to expanding its workforce and ensuring the safety and security of the community.

According to Jackson, the department currently has 37 new hires undergoing training.

The Pierce County Sheriff’s Department’s Mountain Detachment is currently operating out of the basement of Eatonville City Hall, as previously reported by The Center Square. However, the county is now in the process of identifying suitable locations for the construction of a new facility for the mountain detachment.

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MBS Staff
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