July 21, 2024 2:27 am

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2023 crime rates in Washington are down overall, hate crimes and vehicle thefts up

LACEY—The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs released its annual crime report on Tuesday, July 9, which found that, overall, crime rate across the state is down overall yet hate crimes and vehicle thefts continue to climb.

washington crime

Washington State still hasn’t returned to pre-pandemic crime rate levels, however, and still ranks last in staffed police officers per capita in the nation. The per capita rate of law enforcement officers fell to 1.35 per thousand statewide in 2023, which is the lowest per capita rate ever recorded. The national average is about 2.31.

Just to meet the average Washington needs to hire 8,000 officers, an increase of over 80%.

The is the thirteenth straight year Washington State has ranked last in its number of law enforcement officers per capita.

“We are not even treading water because the increase in our population in state the per capita rate actually went down,” said WASPC Executive Steve Strachan Tuesday. “The fewer officers we have the lower the ability to provide justice to victims.”

washington crime

While the total number of commissioned officers statewide increased by 94 for a total of 10,760 in 2023, the total population of the state increased by 85,881 increasing the per capita need.

The annual Crime in Washington report tracks crime and arrest data from contributing law enforcement agencies throughout Washington.  The report is compiled by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC).

In its most recently published report, which compiles crime data from 2023, it found there were a total of 376 murders last year which was a decrease of 5.8% in 2022 yet an 87% increase since 2019.

Overall violent crime fell 5.5% and property crime fell 11.9%, but hate crimes increased 6% and vehicle theft increased by 5.4% Washington State has seen an increase of vehicle thefts of 112% since 2019, the WASPC said.

washington crime

The report also shows more juveniles were involved in crimes.  More than 20% of those arrested for vehicle theft were juveniles – an increase of 24% since 2022.

The highest frequency of hate crimes based on victim demographics involved incidents related to anti-Black/African American (race), anti-Jewish (religion), anti-mental disability (disability), anti-transgender (gender/gender identity), and anti-LGBTQ (sexual orientation).

A press conference was held Tuesday afternoon where WASPC Executive Director Steve Strachan addressed the data before accepting questions from the press.

The first question related to how to stimulate staffing levels in law enforcement in which Strachan replied it starts with supporting local police agencies so that their officers feel encouraged to protect their community. A large part of losing officers over the years, Strachan added, was feeling unsupported and those remaining became “burned out” with the increased work load.

Strachan also addressed the drug problem throughout the state and the rise of anti-Jewish hate crime, commenting that he suspects there has been a spike in the last year but would have to verify the data to be sure.

2023 Crime Report Data and Facts at a Glance

  • The total population for the State of Washington is 7,951,649.
  • Crimes Against Persons showed a decrease of 0.6% with 110,332 offenses reported; compared to 2022 offenses reported of 111,003.
  • Crimes Against Property showed a decrease of 11.9% with 358,749 offenses reported; compared to 407,258 offenses reported in 2022.
  • Crimes Against Society showed an increase of 22.4% with 21,045 offenses reported; compared to 17,193 offenses reported in 2022.
  • Violent Crimes showed a decrease of 5.5% with 31,050 offenses reported; compared to 32,853 offenses reported in 2022.
  • There were 376 murders in 2023; a decrease of 5.8% compared to 399 murders in 2022.
  • Domestic Violence offenses made up 47.9% of all Crimes Against Persons.
  • Hate crimes increased 6% – a total of 576 hate crime incidents were reported.

About the 2023 WASPC Crime Report

The Crime in Washington 2023 report is compiled with data from 225 state, county, municipal, and Tribal agencies and is designed to give residents, elected officials, and law enforcement data-driven information about crime in their communities. The numbers are derived from the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS) submissions. 

The data should not be compared to the FBI Crime in The United States 2023 report which will be published later this year. The Washington State Uniform Crime Reporting Program forwards the crime data to the FBI in the NIBRS format; however, the FBI may convert NIBRS to a Summary Reporting System format, use estimations, or omit agencies that have not submitted all twelve months for 2023.


WASPC was founded in 1963 and consists of executive and top management personnel from law enforcement agencies statewide. With more than 900 members it includes county sheriffs, and 240 police chiefs, as well as the Washington State Patrol, the Washington Department of Corrections, and representatives of several federal agencies. WASPC is the only association of its kind in the nation combining representatives from local, state, tribal, and federal law enforcement into a single body, working toward a common goal. WASPC’s function is to provide specific materials and services to all law enforcement agencies in the state, members, and non-members alike.

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