All Hail Olympia, Washington, Which Stopped Sending Police To Every 911 Call

You know, if you ask a lot of police officers, there are many situations in which they would rather not have to respond, because these situations wouldn’t normally be a good use of their time and training. But, they still go, because history has shown that things can go pear shaped quickly, hence why they respond in force for things such as a simple domestic dispute. This article, a collaboration between The Marshall Project and the Daily Beast, leaves out some rather significant, important information

From the link

On a rainy June day, the manager of a Motel 6 outside Olympia decided one guest had to leave. The woman had been smoking indoors and had an unauthorized visitor. She appeared to be on drugs and was acting erratically.

Normally, that manager might call 911, which would bring police officers to the scene. If the guest refused to leave, the cops might handcuff and arrest her for trespassing. They could find an open warrant on her record or drugs in her room. The interaction could easily escalate into violence, especially if the woman grew angry over facing jail time or another night on the streets. It’s the kind of low-level, “quality of life” call that takes up much of an officer’s day.

But over a year ago, Olympia started taking a different approach to nonviolent incidents caused by someone experiencing mental illness, addiction, or homelessness. Instead of sending armed officers to respond, the city dispatches “crisis responders” to diffuse the situation and connect the individual with services—a model now being considered by a growing number of cities across the U.S.

That day, instead of a police officer, the woman had two “crisis responders” knocking on her door, carrying only a radio and a backpack of clean clothes.

And, perhaps that works 9 out of 10 times. What happens on the 10th when they show up and the person is drugged out and goes on a rampage and stabs the social workers?

As protestors call for abolishing or vastly reducing police presence in communities, sparked by the killing of George Floyd, creating an alternative crisis team like Olympia’s seems like a straightforward place to start. Police respond to a wide range of problems, many of them relatively minor or involving someone having a psychotic episode or sleeping on the streets. Using civilian first responders instead, advocates of this approach say, keeps interactions from escalating into violence, and diverts people from jail and toward social services. It also frees up police resources to focus on more serious crime.

It sounds good in theory, right up till the person goes violent, or continues being a danger to others. Police show up to these calls for Reasons, based on past encounters. It would be great if they could be freed up for more serious crime, and apparently, they have been in Olympia. Let’s take a look at how that’s working out

With a crime rate of 44 per one thousand residents, Olympia has one of the highest crime rates in America compared to all communities of all sizes – from the smallest towns to the very largest cities. One’s chance of becoming a victim of either violent or property crime here is one in 23. Within Washington, more than 89% of the communities have a lower crime rate than Olympia.

Separately, it is always interesting and important to compare a city’s crime rate with those of similarly sized communities – a fair comparison as larger cities tend to have more crime. NeighborhoodScout has done just that. With a population of 52,555, Olympia has a combined rate of violent and property crime that is very high compared to other places of similar population size. Regardless of whether Olympia does well or poorly compared to all other cities and towns in the US of all sizes, compared to places with a similar population, it fares badly. Few other communities of this size have a crime rate as high as Olympia.

Huh.

From our analysis, we discovered that violent crime in Olympia occurs at a rate higher than in most communities of all population sizes in America. The chance that a person will become a victim of a violent crime in Olympia; such as armed robbery, aggravated assault, rape or murder; is 1 in 211. This equates to a rate of 5 per one thousand inhabitants.

In addition, NeighborhoodScout found that a lot of the crime that takes place in Olympia is property crime. Property crimes that are tracked for this analysis are burglary, larceny over fifty dollars, motor vehicle theft, and arson. In Olympia, your chance of becoming a victim of a property crime is one in 26, which is a rate of 39 per one thousand population.

There’s also a much higher chance of having your car stolen, too. Olympia is a “6”, meaning that it is safer than just 6 percent of U.S. cities. Think about this: you think of Los Angeles as having a lot of crime, right? It’s actually a 12. How about Chicago? It’s a 7 (though that will probably go to a 4 or 5 for next year’s ratings).

Perhaps someone can come up with a plan to reduce the need for police officers to respond to all calls, freeing their time up. This isn’t the plan.

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2 Responses to “All Hail Olympia, Washington, Which Stopped Sending Police To Every 911 Call”

  1. formwiz says:

    Jeffery says this is all we have.

    Just like ’68..

  2. Elwood P. Dowd says:

    Edward is sibley an idiot.

    Porter tries to link Olympia WA re-assessing their police department to crime there.

    In 2016 the city violent crime rate in Olympia was higher than the violent crime rate in Washington by 29.85%.

    Olympia crime statistics report an overall downward trend in crime based on data from 18 years with violent crime increasing and property crime decreasing. Based on this trend, the crime rate in Olympia for 2020 is expected to be lower than in 2016.

    https://www.cityrating.com/crime-statistics/washington/olympia.html

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