Lakewood, WA – Pierce County Prosecutor Mark Lindquist and investigator Gene Miller always believed data-driven prosecution would make Pierce County a safer place to live and work. Now, they have the numbers to support this belief.
“Crime is up statewide. Crime is up in Seattle,” Lindquist said. “But, crime is down in Pierce County,” Lindquist told the Lakewood City Council. Data-driven prosecution is a big part of the reason.”
This week, Prosecutor Lindquist and investigator Miller, who oversees the program, sat down with the Lakewood City Council to update members on the success of their data-driven prosecution effort, which is called the High Priority Offender program (HPO).
The numbers are clear: Group “A” offenses, the more serious crimes, year-to-year, from 2016 to 2017 are up five percent statewide, up seven percent in Seattle, but down four percent in Pierce County.
The good news about HPO doesn’t end there, Investigator Miller explained to councilmembers.
“The most notable decreases are in crimes most likely to be impacted by the HPO program such as robbery, burglary and motor vehicle theft,” Miller said. “All three of these felony crimes are down in Pierce County by more than 15 percent.”
The HPO Program focuses resources on the small percentage of criminals who commit a large percentage of crimes. They average eleven prior felony convictions and more than three prior trips to prison.
As part of his ongoing effort to keep our community safe, Lindquist created the High Priority Offender Program in 2015. Since its inception, the HPO Unit has resolved more than 850 cases. These career criminals are sent to prison at more than twice the state average and for sentences nearly four times as long.
The HPO program is of particular significance to city leaders and citizens in Lakewood, because 12 percent of all High Priority Offenders are arrested in Lakewood.
“The presentation on the Prosecutor’s HPO program was clear and concise, and I think it serves as a valuable community service,” Councilmember John Simpson said. “I think what is good for the county, which the program is, is also good for the City of Lakewood. We enjoy a very good working relationship with the Prosecutor’s office, and the HPO Program is indicative of this relationship.”
“Our goal is to end High Priority Offenders’ criminal careers,” Lindquist said. “They can go to prison, or they can change careers. Either way, our community is safer.”
Pierce County is booming. Population is up, crime is down. The HPO program appears to be one of the reasons why.