TRI-CITIES, Wash. — After recent homicides across our area, including two last week, Action News received several comments about what people perceived as an increase in crime here.
Folks reacting to Sunday’s homicide on our Facebook page say it seems to be happening more often than it used to, with one viewer dubbing our area the “Tri-Shooties” and another saying we’re as dangerous as Portland, a city more than twice as large as the Tri-Cities.
But what do the numbers say, is the Tri-Cities getting more dangerous?
We looked at yearly coroner reports for Benton and Franklin counties to see if we could spot an alarming trend.
Sgt. Aaron Clem with Kennewick Police says five homicides in a few weeks would be shocking if it showed a continued upward trend, but he says it doesn’t.
"They all came at us in one month, so it certainly appears we're having a larger number this year because of that," he said. “It all happened at the end of the year.”
The police sergeant says the deadly incidents we’ve seen lately are tragic, but they all have one thing in common.
"These homicides are not random, they were committed by somebody the victim knew,” Clem said, adding it’s fairly unlikely you’ll be attacked or killed in your home by a random intruder.
In 2015 the Benton and Franklin County coroners report a total of 14 homicides in the area with four for Benton and 10 for Franklin.
"Obviously we want it to be lower than that," Clem said.
Sgt. Clem says the numbers are definitely up from last year, but he doesn't foresee it becoming a trend.
He said he still thinks the Tri-Cities is a great place to raise your family.
"You're far more likely to be a victim of a burglary with your doors and windows unlocked than you will a homicide," he explained. "These homicides are not random, they're committed by somebody the victim knew. They don't appear to be gang related, which is what you get in the larger cities [like L.A. or Chicago]."
The sergeant says the Tri-Cities area might even be safer than usual.
"We have more officers on the street than we ever have in the past that are looking out for the safety and security of the citizens. We're an extremely safe community."