SPOKANE, Wash. (AP) — Spokane's new police chief vows to reduce violence in the state's second-largest city.
Spokane recorded 14 homicides in 2012, half of them in the month of December. The Spokesman-Review reported Thursday that those seven homicides in December alone nearly doubled the 2011 total of four and tied the number of homicides for all of 2010.
Police Chief Frank Straub said preliminary numbers show that violent crimes in the city have climbed from 1,304 in 2011 to 1,348 in 2012.
"Any increase in crime is unacceptable," Straub said. "In 2013, we are not going to tolerate this type of activity."
The homicides in 2012 included a mixed bag, including the suspected murder-suicide of an elderly couple, a fatal domestic dispute, a gang-related homicide and a recent shooting in which police say a drunken man pulled out a gun at a party and unintentionally shot a young woman in the back of the head.
Much of the carnage has at least one common link: people who decide to use guns to end disputes.
"It's a scary statement about where we are as a nation," Straub said. "We are settling too many disputes by shooting each other."
Straub recently outlined a plan to streamline functions within the department. A major part of that was to improve the information police officials have available at all times about the types of crimes being committed and those who are committing them.
"We have not done a good job of having that data at our fingertips. We can't pull those statistics as quickly as we should have," Straub said.
He believes the department needs more than the current 273 commissioned officers. But he wants to wait for technological upgrades before he asks Mayor David Condon and the City Council for more resources.
Straub also urged parents to do a better job of monitoring teenagers, and called on neighbors to alert police when they see a party getting out of hand.
"It's very important if people see these (parties) develop to report them before they lead to acts of violence," he said.
Information from: The Spokesman-Review, http://www.spokesman.com