ADT Bellingham, Washington

Can Bellingham be a Seattle or Portland? The Crime Rates Offer a Big “Maybe”
Bellingham, Washington may not be found on any map from the general layman. It may not be a household city. It may not even be a major area for people living in Washington, let alone the entire West Coast. No one ever boasted that Bellingham was the most riveting city in the U.S. But, it can certainly be labeled a calm one- mostly. What is Bellingham Known For? Bellingham is near the very top of Washington state. It exists almost right along the border of the United States and Canada and is known for a massive influx of Canadian tourists who visit for the weekend. They take advantage of cheap gas and groceries. They also bring a calm demeanor to the city, helping to give it a comparably low crime rating given its size and tourist level. With 50,000 residents, the city has a high crime rate. Yet, when compared to other cities of the same size, the crime rate is rather low. It offers an odd juxtaposition overall because crime rate for violent and “high end” crimes is quite high, while low crimes are mild to low compared to a national average. Over the Average It is worth remarking on a white elephant in the room. The city wants to boast a low crime rate to encourage Canadian tourists. City leaders also want to impress potential movers to help lean into the population increases that are occurring in the neighboring cities of Portland and Seattle. But, this isn’t exactly the truth. Bellingham has a crime rate that is over the national average. According to City-Data, the national crime index rate for the U.S is 291. Bellingham is currently resting at a rate of 355. This is not out of the norm. Only one year (2011) out of the last 12 has reported a crime index rate lower than the average. Even in 2011, it was by a very small margin of about 3 points (288). This is hardly a rate worth boasting. Crime Rates Decrease With all that said, rates for nearly all crimes are decreasing across the board. Arson has decreased substantially nearly every year, dropping about 5 incidents per year from 2005 to 2014. Auto thefts have been almost cut in half from a ridiculous 294 in 2002 to 165 in 2014. The one major mark on this overall downward trend is rape. With 30, 25, and 28 rapes in 2003, 2004, and 2005 respectively, the city could have claimed some stability (albeit high rates, regardless). Unfortunately, a spike in occurrences has added a black umbrella over the city. 55 rapes in 2014 is not a concern- it is staggering. FBI reports do suggest an overall good trend with the city. The violent crime rating is low overall. The FBI report states a score of 22 out of 100. This is a good number. 100 would suggest extremely high crime rates, while 0 would mean virtually no crime at all. The national average here is 41.4. This score only reflects violent crime, which includes murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Contradictory Numbers? Of course, these numbers offer some concerning contradictions. For example, City-Data reflects that the national crime index is 291 with a Bellingham index of 355. This suggests higher-than-average crime in the city. The FBI rating for Bellingham is 22, compared to 41. 4 for the United States average. The FBI rating does include only violent crimes. This suggests that violent crime is lower than average in Bellingham compared to the national average. Yet, it also suggests that other non-violent crimes are substantially higher. It is a contradiction that is hard to put into words and one that suggests that Bellingham citizens are less likely to commit a violent crime, but would be more interested in low-level crimes. Columbine-Like Few comparisons are harder to stomach than one to Columbine. A Bellingham man was arrested this year in a domestic abuse situation. Yet, this was hardly a crime of passion. The man declared “Columbine-like” ramifications during the incident. The arrest quickly captured media attention. The media balked at the comment. It would be a potential incident that would ignite a firestorm of discussion. With the plight of recent shootings, the comment was hardly taken lightly. Shots were fired during the outburst. It is an example of how crime can manifest itself in the city, and how what might seem like an isolated incident could be a whole lot more. Can Bellingham be a Seattle or Portland? It certainly wants to be. Bellingham is at the very top corner of Washington. It is known for its close proximity to the larger cities of Washington, as well as its proximity to Vancouver. There is certainly a lot to love from this modest little city, but high safety is not one of them. The city has issues. The population booms in Seattle may actually be bringing increased crime rates. But, the city has a lot to offer. Its proximity to Seattle and Portland is a certain charm. Though ironically, this may be leading to crime increases as the populations of these cities continue to rise and bleed into neighboring districts. The city has the potential to be a major player in the growing Northwest. Its beautiful landscape is hard to contend with, and a positive factor against the crime. But, the city needs increased funding to hold the violent detractors at bay.