How does Seattle feel about crime? It’s complicated

May 5, 2022
Written by WR Communications

Sandlin Grayson, an officer with the Seattle Police Department’s Crisis Response Team, responds to a call in Seattle’s Magnolia neighborhood, Aug. 6, 2020, in Seattle. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)


Crime gets a lot of airtime in Seattle these days. Headlines abound about retail theft and gun violence. Crime rates have increased. But perceptions of crime and safety can vary greatly from reality.

A new Crosscut/Elway Poll found Seattleites are just about evenly split when it comes to their concern over crime levels or lack thereof.

The poll also looked at what voters think is at the root of the city’s rising crime rate and how they want city leaders to address it.

Pollsters surveyed 400 Seattle voters via landline, cellphone, and text that directed people to an online survey. Respondents were distributed nearly evenly through the seven Seattle City Council districts, split evenly by renters and homeowners and gender, and weighted to match the city’s racial demographics, incomes, and age.

Seattleites’ perception of crime is the foundation of the poll. Respondents were asked whether they think crime is exaggerated, underplayed, or accurately portrayed by the media. The city is nearly evenly split on the question: 35% said the media exaggerates how bad the city’s crime is, 32% said crime is being underreported, 25% said reports are accurate, and 8% have no opinion.

Those views of crime weren’t formed in a vacuum. The Seattle Police Department’s 2021 crime report showed there were 5,340 reports of violent crime in 2021, up 20% from 2020’s 4,466 reports. There were 42,049 reports of property crime in 2021, a 9% increase from 2020’s 38,714.

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