Why, Peter Callaghan muses in his column (4-7), can’t Tacoma ever be mentioned in a context other than crime? Good question.
While a valid answer is likely beyond my grasp, there are a few contributing factors of which I am aware. First, Tacoma is ground zero for so many wayward felons–drug dealers, gang bangers, burglars, robbers and mentally unbalanced and violent individuals–that counting the number of halfway houses, or county and state release facilities would be a daunting task.
Second, and it couldn’t be this simple (could it?), the TV stations are in Seattle–the city to the north with such a stunted impression of T-town.
Tacoma and greater Pierce County have a problem with gangs. This includes the Hilltop Crips, arguably the most well-known gang in the state. That notoriety is due, in large part, to those aforementioned Seattle TV stations. But while Tacoma has been digging itself out of a red and blue-colored crime wave, Seattle has been anything but safe by comparison.For some reason much of Seattle’s gang-related crime goes under- or unreported by local media. In meeting after meeting, both with Pierce County and King County gang investigators, I have listened to lengthy descriptions of ongoing gang crimes in both counties. Speaking anecdotally, Seattle has a bigger gang problem than Tacoma. By far.
In most ways, the difference is simply a matter of population. Seattle’s Central District (east of downtown) and south end are simply much larger in population than the traditional gang neighborhoods in Tacoma and Pierce County. The number of gangs, which vary in ethnicity from established African-American, Asian and Hispanic gangs, are much greater than their counterparts to the south.
Yet we rarely hear about the constant drive-by shootings committed by the Deuce 8 Mob, the 74 Hoover Crips or the Tiny Rascal Gang. We rarely see footage of Seattle gang unit officers investigating the almost daily exchanges of gunfire between rivals in the CD and south end. But if a gun goes off, say in Lakewood, however? That will be the only time you hear that particular L-word this month.
Yes, the Seattle media has an imbalance in its reporting of gang activity, and it is tilted towards Tacoma. That’s a shame, and somebody with a few skills in marketing needs to get on that (if they want more trash on Seattle, call me).
In the meantime, let’s join Mark Lindquist in thanking the cops and prosecutors that slapped our own gang problem down. That’s great news for Tacoma.