EVERETT — The Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office is offering the public a new look at crime rates in areas patrolled by its deputies.
An online dashboard released Friday gives insight into crime trends in Snohomish County’s unincorporated areas and smaller cities, like Stanwood, Snohomish and those along U.S. 2.
For example, it shows homicides are up this year, compared to past years in the same jurisdiction. In all of 2019, there were nine. The next year, that dropped to four, before returning to nine in 2021. This year, there have been 11.
The number of reported assaults is similar to past years. Arsons are down. Cases involving domestic violence have gone down each year since 2019. Robberies are up. Thefts, especially of vehicles, are way up. Weapons offenses, like drive-by shooting and unlawful possession of a firearm, have surpassed last year’s total.
Total calls for service appear slightly down, with about 202,000 all of last year and over 177,000 so far this year.
Previously, this data would only be published at the end of each year. The dashboard will be updated every Thursday night.
It’s a new approach from Sheriff Adam Fortney, who has said few people read the end-of-year summaries that were published in the style of a magazine. For 2020, the sheriff’s office only released a year-end video with little data, though some data was available on the sheriff’s website or through third-party sources. And over the summer, Fortney told the county council that his office’s crime data was “inaccurate,” with lapses dating back to 2016. About 70,000 incidents between 2016 and 2021 were “floating in the back end” of the office’s computer system, unaccounted for, largely due to errors in how addresses were entered, he said.
The dashboard comes as local officials have warned of rising crime in local cities, part of a push for state lawmakers to do more to address the issues. But reliable data has sometimes been hard to come by. It can take the FBI many months to release crime figures from the previous year. This year, an annual report from the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs was published in July, detailing crime in cities across the state from January to December 2021.
The sheriff’s office hopes the new dashboard helps fill the information gap with more comprehensive statistics that are frequently updated.
In a statement Friday, Fortney said “this is one part of a multi-pronged approach using technology advancements to increase transparency and better serve our community.”
Fortney’s challenger in the 2023 election, Deputy Chief Susanna Johnson of the Bothell Police Department, has criticized the sheriff’s office for an alleged lack of transparency around crime statistics.
“He kept moving the dial on it,” Johnson told The Daily Herald last month. “He said, ‘We used to do it, but nobody was reading it, so we stopped doing it.’ … There was this side-trip that talked about hundreds of copies that weren’t read. I just thought, ‘Why don’t you just reduce the number of copies or just put it out virtually?’”
Future iterations of the dashboard are expected to include more data from the Snohomish County Jail and the Office of Professional Accountability, which handles complaints of misconduct for the sheriff’s office. The website currently includes OPA’s brief annual reports. And the jail data in the dashboard details the number of days suspects spent in custody over the past few years. For example, it shows inmates this year are generally getting out of jail slower than they were in 2020, when the pandemic pushed officials to reduce the jail population.
This effort is separate from another planned dashboard coming from the prosecutor’s office. That one hopes to include crime data, but also dig in to the path through the criminal justice system and what role race plays.
The sheriff’s interactive dashboard is available at snohomishcountywa.gov/3308/crime-statistics-reports.