Joe Schmitt writes a weekly blog called The Good Life, featuring information about the region’s history, culture, climate and economy. The blog also showcases new residents, clubs and organizations, outdoor recreational opportunities and local events.
Earlier this year we helped stage a media conference to tout the City of Yakima's 20 percent drop in crime over the last two years. Now we discovered that Yakima is far down the list for overall crime versus other Washington cities. According to statistics maintained by the Washington Sheriffs and Police Association as of June, 2015,Yakima now sits 34th on the list in terms of overall crime rates among cities in Washington.
As you look at the list we do note that there are quite a few communities smaller than Yakima with higher crime rates. Some people may suggest that its not accurate or fair to compare Yakima with small towns, but these statistics are all based on crimes/1000 so we do think these numbers provide apples to apples comparisons. Among metro areas, Yakima is 4th on the list behind Spokane, Tacoma and Seattle.
We also looked at particular crimes and found Yakima dropping on the list compared with last year:
Burglary and theft constitute Yakima's most significant criminal offenses by sheer numbers. Auto theft is included because the City has been among the top cities for auto theft in the nation in recent years.
Tackling the perception of crime in our community is a significant issue in Yakima. Residents in our community have been living with higher than average crime rates for a long time so it is hard to change local attitudes. Yakima does have a higher than average crime rate. At the same time though let's give ourselves a little more credit. Serious crime rates in Yakima have dropped by over 66% since the mid 1980s.
Let's give our local law enforcement agencies a big hand for making our communities safer. Yakima has done an excellent job over the last few years to impact crime. The job to reduce crime is certainly not over, but let's take stock of where we are relative to other communities and adopt a better local attitude. We need to quit bashing ourselves about our historic crime problem and embrace fresher information about the bottom line progress we are making to improve public safety. Going forward - the reality of our crime statistics needs to overcome our perceptions about local crime.
Note: thanks to Joe Brown and Mike Bastinelli with the Yakima Police Department for reviewing our research and ensuring we are using sound numbers and good methodology.