Seattle notched its deadliest month in recent history this August and is on track to set a 25-year record high in fatal shootings, according to police.
"This is one of our highest years, and we are on pace to exceed the last two years, and this has been a concerning trend," Interim Police Chief Adrian Diaz said last week of fatal shootings in the city, according to King 5. "We are passing our 25-year high that happened just two years ago."
The Seattle Police Department confirmed to Fox News Digital that it recorded 11 homicides for the month of August. Police data reviewed by Fox News Digital show that August 2022 had the highest number of homicides recorded in a single month since at least 2008 — the year that's the furthest back on the Seattle Police Department's Crime Dashboard.
The previous record in the city was nine homicides in June 2021. Seattle had averaged roughly three homicides every August between 2008 and 2021, meaning this year’s August saw a roughly 267% increase compared to the previous 14-year average.
Seattle notched its highest number of homicides in 26 years in 2020, at 53. Last year saw 42 homicides in the city, while 2022 has already recorded 27, King 5 reported.
Seattle’s data on homicides follow a national trend from 2020. FBI data show murders increased by nearly 30% in 2020, marking the largest single-year increase in killings since the agency began tracking the crimes. The data show murders disproportionately affected Black Americans, at a more than 32% increase compared to 2019.
Experts who have previously spoken to Fox News Digital pointed to the defund the police movement, the pandemic and its lockdowns, which upset daily life in unprecedented ways, and the Ferguson effect for the rise in crimes in 2020.
Seattle became a focal point of the defund movement in 2020 with then-Mayor Jenny Durkan announcing that summer the city would defund the police department by $76 million as protests and riots raged following the killing of George Floyd. Other liberal leaders in the city, such as socialist Councilwoman Kshama Sawant, pushed for the department to be further defunded that year by 50%, or about $85 million.
As crime increased in the city since 2020, the police department in Seattle has faced steep staffing shortages — a problem that has affected nearly all law enforcement agencies in King County, where Seattle is located. Diaz told King 5 that the staffing shortages since 2020 have fanned the flames of crime in the city with fewer officers available to respond to calls and patrol the streets.
Seattle is far from alone in dealing with police staffing issues — cities across the country have reported more of the same since the protests and riots of 2020 that called for police departments to be defunded. Philadelphia, for example, is bracing for at least 800 police department members to leave the force over the next few years while it's already operating at 20% below its targeted staffing level. And in Chicago, police reported the lowest number of employees in recent history at the end of March.
"Unfortunately, we find ourselves in a very difficult time in American history in the last two years. America's law enforcement has been demonized by many. It has created a rift within this country and eroded the very trust of the institution and the profession of law enforcement," National Fraternal Order of Police President Patrick Yoes said at the Faith & Blue conference in Washington, D.C., last month. "And we're paying for it. We're paying for it in our communities with higher crime. And we're also paying for it in law enforcement officers."
Seattle homicides for August wrapped up last week as Seattle police were attempting to arrest a person allegedly involved in a domestic violence report when they came under fire from the suspect.
As they apprehended the armed man, they heard unrelated gunshots ring out blocks away. They found a 44-year-old man fatally shot and a 46-year-old man suffering from a "graze wound," according to police.
"We have a shared responsibility to get guns off the street, and we have a shared responsibility to make sure people call 911 if they see situations escalating," Diaz said.