Hundreds of people in Tacoma gathered at the LeMay – America’s Car Museum to demand that city leaders address break-ins, vandalism and homeless encampments.
The News Tribune reports the event was organized by Tacoma Safe, a community group formed last year in response to repeated complaints from business owners about crime and lack of police response.
The meeting Wednesday night was attended by high-ranking public figures, including Tacoma Mayor Victoria Woodards, new police chief Avery Moore, Pierce County Executive Bruce Dammeier and Pierce County Prosecutor Mary Robnett.
Meanwhile, a few dozen people gathered outside the museum to protest a potential camping ban.
Cathy Pick, chair of the Tacoma Tenants Organizing Committee, was one of the them and said the focus should be on housing people rather than increasing police and putting people in jail.
“Those of you inside who have the resources and the skills to build buildings, let’s just forget this camping ban and let’s start breaking ground all over the city and get these people off the streets,” Pick said.
City leaders said Wednesday that they’re working to address concerns by businesses. Mayor Victoria Woodards said the city is working to create incentives for hiring more police officers and that she is planning to bring forward a package of programs next week aimed at helping businesses.
“I am so encouraged by the number of people who turned out tonight and the number of people who really want to work on solutions,” Woodards said Wednesday.
According to an end of year crime report from the Tacoma Police Department, the city saw an increase in both violent and property crimes in 2021 compared to 2020.
In 2020, there were 4,467 reported violent crimes, including more than 4,021 assault offenses and 30 homicides. In 2021, there were 5,242 reported violent crimes, including 4,813 assault offenses and 31 homicides.
As for property crimes, there were 21,569 reported for 2020, including 134 arsons, 2,059 burglaries and 8,638 thefts. In 2021, there were 25,534 reported property crimes, including 241 arsons, 2,270 burglaries and 9,487 thefts.
This story has been updated to correct the last graf to show the the crimes reported in 2021 were property crimes.