Spokane police see double-digit drop in violent, property crimes

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SPOKANE, Wash. — You see it in the news. You hear about it from neighbors. You may be a victim yourself.

Washington’s second largest city is no stranger to crime — it’s either violent or property related. Last year in Spokane, both categories saw a double-digit drop. Violent crimes decreased 14.6% and property crimes sank 16.5 % according to data from the Spokane Police Department.

“Having worked here for 25 years, our officers are passionate,” said Chief Craig Meidl.

Vehicle thefts dropped 25% and residential burglaries went down nearly as much, decreasing 22%.

“Every single week our patrol and investigative units sit down and talk about crime,” Meidl said. “What is going on and where we are seeing it.”

He said that’s why reporting crime, no matter how small, is so critical.

“If the community is not calling those crimes in, then we’re going to go to a different area that looks like it’s a hot spot.”

Meidl said drugs continue to be a big challenge for his officers.

“I would argue that drugs are driving the majority of our property crimes. They are stealing to support their habit. I think one of the reasons you’re seeing property crime down is really that effort to focus on our chronic and repeat offenders.”

Another issue is the constant overcrowding at the Spokane County Jail. Some criminals never see a jail cell.

“They would laugh and mock you and say ‘I’ll be out before you’re even done with your report’ and usually, they’re right,” Meidl said.

Those challenges will persist in 2020. Meidl said his department is focused on working efficiently with the resources they have.

“It’s just constantly looking at what we’re doing and make little improvements, sometimes big improvements to our processes.”

The one type of crime that increased in 2019 was commercial robbery. There were 94 reported, 17% more than 2018.

To view the full report and see crime trends in your neighborhood, click here.