Collaboration in Civic Spheres

Archive for the ‘Public Safety’ Category

WA far outpaces U.S. in gun buy background checks

by Matt Rosenberg January 3rd, 2013

New federal data tied to one prominent indicator suggests Washington state is far outpacing neighboring states plus California and the United States in firearms purchases from 1999 through 2012. That’s the number of background checks submitted from federal firearms licensees to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) on behalf of unlicensed buyers, under the federal Brady law. The total from Washington has grown from 133,674 in 1999 to 519,209 in 2012, or 288 percent versus 114 percent nationwide, 66 percent in Oregon, 70 percent in Idaho and 28 percent in California. The data come from updated annual state-by-state and nationwide NICS summaries issued this week by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. (See chart, below).

Violent crime, murder rates at historic lows in Washington

by Matt Rosenberg January 2nd, 2013

The murder rate in Washington state reached a 45-year low of 2.3 per 100,000 population in 2010, and bumped up a scant tenth of a percent in 2011, according to information retrieved from the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s Uniform Crime Reporting database covering 1960 to 2010, and a recently-issued state-by-state update from the bureau. The last year in which the Evergreen State’s murder rate was lower than 2010 was 1965. The rate of total violent crime has also continued to plunge in the state, dropping to a 37-year low of 313.8 per 100,000 in 2010 and then descending further in 2011 to 294.6, according to FBI data. The trend has held in other states and nationwide, even as federal estimates of firearms owned in the U.S. and yearly background checks for new gun purchases have grown markedly from the 1990s through 2012.

Washington juvenile arrest rates highest in rural counties

by Matt Rosenberg October 30th, 2012

Overall 2011 juvenile arrest rates in Washington state were highest in rural counties while the state’s most populous and urbanized county, King, was among those with the lowest rates.

The data come from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs and is processed by the state’s Statistical Analysis Center. The Center’s Crime Stats Online data hub provides the public with access to the information, which is used in the Office of Financial Management’s annual Washington State Criminal Justice Data Book.

Following are several maps retrieved from the Crime Stats Online data hub, showing juvenile arrest rates by Washington County in 2011, for various types of crimes.

Leading in juvenile arrests per 1,000 population aged 18-39 last year were Adams, Asotin, Benton, Cowlitz, Clark, Douglas, Franklin, Okanagan, Skagit and Walla Walla counties. The rates are calculated according to the metric preferred by law enforcement, which is the number of arrests of juveniles (under 18 years old) for every member of the general population in the same jurisdiction who is between 18 and 39 years old. Here’s that first map, and then four more.

Seattle bill would restrict employer use of criminal histories

by Matt Rosenberg September 19th, 2012

A proposed City of Seattle bill being championed by Councilmember Bruce Harrell would restrict the right of Seattle employers to factor in to their hiring decisions a job applicant’s past arrests, convictions or pending criminal criminal charges. Under Council Bill 117583, which is scheduled for discussion today in the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee meeting chaired by Harrell, employers would be required to:


  • wait until after extending a job offer to check an applicant’s criminal history;
  • avoid refusing to hire, or avoid firing an employee because of a past criminal conviction or pending criminal charge – unless there’s a “direct relationship” between the crime and the job’s duties;
  • and assess “direct relationship” on factors including reasonable foreseeability of harm or misconduct, seriousness of past crime(s), length of time elapsed since the crime(s), and the applicant’s conduct and rehabilitation since then.

  • According to a city staff fiscal note which summarizes the bill and answers several questions about its implications, Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights would implement the legislation. This would include public education directed to employers and job applicants, and could also involve investigating and trying to settle complaints brought by job applicants against Seattle employers. The fiscal note says it’s not clear whether the bill would require additional hiring at OCR; that the agency “will need to assess their ability to continue to absorb this body of work with existing staff and resources.”

    27 years of data: Seattle crime rate sharply declining

    by Nathan Brown August 24th, 2012

    Annual rates of reported crime in Seattle have continued a steady and overall, sharp decline from 1985 through 2011, paralleling a trend seen in all other King County cities and nationwide, according to local police department data provided to Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs. A spread sheet (Excel download) prepared for Public Data Ferret using the WASPC data, shows the overall per capita crime rate in Seattle (or reported crimes per 1,000 residents) went from 129.15 in 1985 to 58.06 in 2011. The spreadsheet also has annual per capita crime rate data for all other King County cities over the 27-year period.

    Data viz: crime-specific rates, King County cities, 2007-2011

    by Nathan Brown August 21st, 2012

    Recently, we published an original data visualization showing the overall crime rate per capita for each King County city, from 1985 through 2011. Below we zero in on crime rate data for King County cities during the years 2007- 2011, broken down and ranked by crime subtypes including the violent crimes of murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault; and the property crimes burglary, larceny, arson and vehicle theft. Simply shift the horizontal year-slider one or more years to the right to view a new year. (Please wait momentarily for each new year’s data to display). The map atop the visualization will shift – showing the overall crime rate for each town, color-coded and with mouse-over details (map operation details); but at the same time the bar charts below will display for the same year the crime sub-type rates for each King County city. Rates are expressed per capita, or incidences per 1,000 residents. Source: The maps and bar charts display data as reported from each city’s police department within King County by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs.

    RELATED: Public Data Ferret’s Data Visualization archive


    Public Data Ferret is a news knowledge base program of the Seattle-based 501c3 public charity, Public Eye Northwest. Ferret In The News. Donate; subscribe (free)/volunteer.

    State finds gaps in sex offender screening at foster homes

    by John Stang August 8th, 2012

    Twenty-eight sex offenders fell between the cracks of state background checks on child care homes between 2002 and 2012, said a state performance audit released last week. “We found that even with required criminal background checks, monitoring and/or regular social worker visits, offenders still lived in child and foster care homes undetected,” the report said. The audit’s purpose was to see if Washington’s sex offender databases could be used to to help monitor state-regulated facilities with children. This was done after similar audits in other states found that a child care provider or caretaker could pass background checks, but could still allow a sex offenders inside a facility without reporting that person to the appropriate regulating agency. Washington has roughly 18,000 registered sex offenders. The 28 sex offenders were living in foster homes unreported by the providers. The audit cross-checked sex offender addresses with the addresses of child care providers to find the 28 on both.