The Graph That Shows Seattle's Homicide Spike

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Nine homicides in the past two months, all including guns, have rocked the city and the police department is calling it a public safety emergency. How bad is the spike? We dug into the data and found the murder rate this year is one for the record books.

As you can see in our homemade graph below, the data shows that these past two months have seen the highest number of homicides for the year-to-date going back to at least 1995, the earliest year for which records are listed. It was only eight years ago Seattle saw its lowest homicide rate in four decades, but now the alarming reversal is now unmistakable:

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* Monthly data not available for 2008 and 2010
So what's being done about the spike?

In his State of the City speech earlier this week Mayor McGinn offered some boilerplate -- "we are standing firm with the people of Seattle against violent behavior" -- along with some concrete promises: "More officers will be deployed to address street disorder, assaults, and shootings."

The SPD is implementing what it calls "violence prevention emphasis patrols" and city leaders say they want the public to get involved (or, at the very least, to make it appear as if they're on top of a problem that can't be solved just by sending out press releases). Council member Bruce Harrell, Chair of the Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology Committee released a statement "asking community leaders and organizations to work with the Police Department, the Mayor's Office and the Public Safety Committee in establishing new norms of cooperation and trust." What those new norms are, however, he failed to articulate.

For those curious, while on pace for 54 murders in 2012, that's still less than in 1994 when Seattle had its highest homicide rate of all time with 69.

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