The crime rate in Washington is declining overall in 2023, but hate crimes and car thefts are increasing

The crime rate in Washington is declining overall in 2023, but hate crimes and car thefts are increasing

LACEY-The Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs released its annual crime report on Tuesday, July 9, finding that overall crime rates in the state are declining, but hate crimes and car thefts continue to rise.

Crime in Washington

However, Washington state has still not reached its pre-pandemic crime rate levels and still ranks last in the country in the number of police officers per capita. The per capita rate of police officers statewide fell to 1.35 per thousand in 2023, which is the lowest per capita rate ever recorded. The national average is about 2.31.

Just to reach the average, Washington must hire 8,000 officers, an increase of over 80%.

This is the thirteenth consecutive year that Washington state has ranked last in the number of police officers per capita.

“We are not even standing still, because the population growth in our state has actually caused the per capita rate to drop,” said WASPC chief executive Steve Strachan on Tuesday. “The fewer officers we have, the less ability we have to deliver justice to victims.”

Crime in Washington

While the total number of officers statewide increased by 94 to a total of 10,760 in 2023, the state’s total population increased by 85,881, increasing the per capita need.

The annual Crime in Washington report collects crime and arrest data from participating law enforcement agencies across Washington state. The report is produced by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC).

In its most recently released report, which summarizes crime data from 2023, it found that there were a total of 376 murders last year, a decrease of 5.8% in 2022 but an increase of 87% since 2019.

Overall, violent crime fell 5.5% and property crime fell 11.9%, but hate crimes increased 6% and auto thefts increased 5.4%. In Washington state, auto thefts have increased 112% since 2019, the WASPC said.

Crime in Washington

The report also shows that more youth were involved in crimes. More than 20% of those arrested for car theft were juveniles – a 24% increase since 2022.

The highest frequency of hate crimes measured by victim demographics involved incidents related to discrimination against Blacks/African Americans (race), discrimination against Jews (religion), discrimination against intellectual disabilities (disability), discrimination against transgender people (gender/gender identity), and discrimination against LGBTQ (sexual orientation).

A press conference was held on Tuesday afternoon, where WASPC CEO Steve Strachan discussed the data before answering questions from the press.

The first question was about how to increase police staffing levels. Strachan responded that this starts with supporting local police departments so that their officers feel encouraged to protect their community. A large proportion of the officers lost over the years, Strachan added, felt unsupported and those that remain have become “burnt out” by the increased workload.

Strachan also addressed the drug problem across the state and the rise in anti-Jewish hate crimes. He said he believes there has been a spike in the last year, but he will need to check the data to be sure.

Data and facts on the 2023 crime report at a glance

  • The total population of Washington State is 7,951,649.
  • Crimes against persons decreased by 0.6% to 110,332 reported crimes, compared to 111,003 reported crimes in 2022.
  • Property crimes saw a decrease of 11.9% to 358,749 reported crimes, compared to 407,258 reported crimes in 2022.
  • Crimes against society saw an increase of 22.4%, with 21,045 crimes reported; compared to 17,193 crimes reported in 2022.
  • Violent crimes decreased by 5.5% to 31,050 reported crimes, compared to 32,853 reported crimes in 2022.
  • In 2023, there were 376 murders, a decrease of 5.8% compared to 399 murders in 2022.
  • Crimes related to domestic violence accounted for 47.9% of all crimes against persons.
  • Hate crimes increased by 6% – a total of 576 cases of hate crimes were reported.

About the WASPC Crime Report 2023

Compiled using data from 225 state, county, local and tribal agencies, the Crime in Washington 2023 report is designed to provide residents, elected officials and law enforcement with data-driven information about crime in their communities. The numbers come from submissions to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS).

The data should not be compared with the FBI’s Crime in The United States 2023 report, which will be released later this year. Washington State’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program submits crime data to the FBI in NIBRS format. However, the FBI may convert NIBRS to a Summary Reporting System format, use estimates, or omit agencies that have not submitted all twelve months for 2023.


Founded in 1963, WASPC is comprised of officers and top managers from law enforcement agencies across the state. Its more than 900 members include county sheriffs and 240 police chiefs, as well as the Washington State Patrol, Washington Department of Corrections, and representatives from several federal agencies. WASPC is the only association of its kind in the country that brings together representatives from local, state, tribal, and federal agencies into a single body working toward a common goal. WASPC’s function is to provide specific materials and services to all law enforcement agencies in the state, members and nonmembers alike.