Crime in Auburn increased slightly in 2020

Crime in Auburn rose in 2020, but police cleared fewer cases, according to the Crime in Washington report released by the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs (WASPC).

In 2020, there was an increase in murders, certain types of sex crimes, DUI, vehicle theft, stolen property offenses, weapon law violations and prostitution.

However, there was a decrease in several other crimes like aggravated and simple assault, animal cruelty, burglary and robbery. Overall, there was a 1% increase in crime from 2019 to 2020, according to the report.

There was a slight increase in murders last year. There were six murders in 2020 compared to four in 2019, said Kolby Crossley, Auburn Police Department’s Public Information Officer. The WASPC report listed 10 murders in Auburn during 2020, but Crossley said that after further investigation, four of them were determined not to be murders. Of the six murders in Auburn, police have made three arrests. Murder across Washington rose by about 50% in 2020, according to the report.

In 2020, Auburn police cleared 22.4% of cases — “cleared” means police made an arrest, but it doesn’t necessarily mean the person arrested was convicted of the crime they were arrested for. In 2019, the clearance rate was 24.7%, so even though crime in Auburn rose by 1%, police cleared fewer cases in 2020.

This decrease in cleared cases could be because of the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions that were put on law enforcement, Crossley said. During the pandemic, courts shut down and there were restrictions on the number of people police could put in jail, which affected the clearance rates.

Although 22.4% might seem like a low clearance rate, it’s not abnormal for the area. For example, Federal Way’s clearance rate in 2020 was 18.4%, Kent’s was 22.0 % and Renton’s was 20.9%. So compared to surrounding jurisdictions, Auburn’s clearance rate doesn’t stand out.

As the state re-opens from pandemic shutdowns, crime is still on the rise. In Auburn, there has been an increase in shootings, auto theft and burglaries in 2021, Crossley said.

“Everyone is bouncing back from COVID and the Auburn Police Department is only one component of the justice system. We’re doing what we can to investigate and process crimes,” Crossley said.

The Auburn Police Department accounts for 37.6% of the city’s 2021-22 general fund budget, and around $30 million is allocated to the police department each year, according to Auburn’s 2021-22 biennial budget report.