Homicides in the Pacific Northwest remained high in 2021 after wild surge in 2020

Note: Official homicides counts for 2021 can still be raised later on.

In 2020, the Pacific Northwest saw huge increases in homicide rates. The biggest factor seems to be a shift in how political leaders treat criminals. Instead of being seen as predators, violent criminals are being treated as victims of circumstance.

This was most pronounced in Portland, where homicides were actually way down during the first half of 2020. Then, city officials conducted a stand down and allowed months of relentless rioting by BLM and Antifa militants. This rioting coincided with an explosion of violent crime. Portland ended up with the second highest number of homicides in its history, with most occurring during the second half of the year.

Let’s look at how the Pacific Northwest faired in 2021.

In 2020, Portland saw a staggering 62% increase in homicides over 2019. In 2021, Portland saw a 49% increase over 2020. From 2019 to 2021, homicides increased 142%.

1987: 66 (450k, 14.7 per 100k) all time record, in which nearly half of all homicides in the entire state occurred in Portland

1993: 54 (465k people, 11.61 per 100k) worst year in the 90s
2019: 35
2020: 57 (659k people, 8.65 per 100k)
2021: 85 (662k, 12.8k per 100k) second highest rate in the city’s history

Some local Portland media are now reporting that the total number of homicides was 90, however, we have found that the Portland media often seems to round up.

Note: At the end of 2020, Portland media reported a total of 54 homicides. However, the Portland Police Bureau [PPB] later added another three homicides to official statistics. Also, the PPB instituted stricter rules in late 2019 as to what would constitute a “homicide.” Homicide counts from before 2019 used a broader definition.

In 2020, Spokane saw an incredible 200% increase in homicides over 2019. Homicides were down in 2021, but still high compared to most years between 2003-2019. Between 2019 and 2021, homicides increased 86%. 

2002: 20 previous record
2011: 4 recent record low
2017: 6
2018: 8
2019: 7
2020: 21 all time record
2021: 13

Note: The official 2020 homicide count increased from 20 to 21 since we originally reported on it early last year.

Seattle was also down significantly in 2021 compared to 2020, though some surrounding suburban communities saw large spikes. This is what happened last year in the Cleveland metro area. However, the Seattle count was still very high compared to most pre-2020 years. 2021 homicides were still up 46% over 2019.

2016: 19
2018: 32
2019: 28
2020: 52
2021: 41

King County had 69 homicides in 2019. There were 73 in the first nine months of 2021.

In 2020, Tacoma experienced the most homicides that the city had seen since 1994. The number is down slightly for 2021, but homicides still rose 38% from 2019 to 2021.

1994: 33 record high
2018: 18
2019: 21
2020: 32
2021: 29

Note: The official 2020 homicide count increased from 31 to 32 since we originally reported on it early last year.

Across the border in Canada, Vancouver, British Columbia experienced a 90% increased in Homicides in 2020. The homicide count for 2021 is one fewer than 2020, for a two year increase of 80%.

2019: 10
2020: 19
2021: 18

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