New Tacoma Police Chief addresses rise in crime, changes needed in the city

FOX 13 News spoke one-on-one with new Tacoma Police Chief, Avery Moore, about his plans to address the issues the city is facing.

Moore says he spent the first three weeks in his new role getting to know staff and city leaders.

Now, he is sitting down and speaking directly to FOX 13 News about his plans for Tacoma.

Tacoma is seeing an increase in crime in several areas:  arsons are up, car thefts are up, street racers are terrorizing neighborhoods, and most concerning is that homicides are at the highest rate the city has seen since the 90s.

"My objective is to reduce overall crime in the city of Tacoma," said Moore.

Moore says there is a crime plan in place, with an emphasis on targeting high-crime areas in the city with more police visibility and working to get repeat offenders off the street, but he says fixing this issue will take time.

 "I’m asking them to be patient as it relates to crime. Crime didn’t occur overnight, we’re not going to be able to address it overnight," he said.

Moore tells FOX 13 News he is also working to rebuild the department. Moore says there are about 55 officer vacancies right now with TPD, and he says morale has been low.

In just the last few weeks, Moore says he is already noticing a positive change.

"Officers didn’t feel valued. They didn’t feel like the work they were doing was appreciated. A lot of that was because we didn’t let people know the great work that we’re doing. We’re changing that," he said.

Moore says he is focusing on lateral hires to get staffing numbers back up. Lateral hires from other Washington State police departments means officers can get on the streets quicker.

New police chief starts job in Tacoma

On Tuesday, Chief Avery Moore assumed his new role as Police Chief for the city of Tacoma.

He says the department is also working on retention packages to keep officers on staff.

Finally, Moore discussed the effort to heal relations between Tacoma Police and its community.

"It’s my responsibility to show you that I’m sincere about building your trust and gaining your trust, because I recognize why we don’t have it," he said.

High-profile incidents, including the Manny Ellis case, put a strain on the relationship between police and the city.

Moore says he plans to make changes that should have happened a long time ago.

Specifically, focusing on recommendations from 21CP Solutions.

About a year ago, a third-party organization contracted through the city, provided dozens of recommendations for reforming the Tacoma Police Department.

Moore says no real action came following the release of these recommendations, and he plans to change that.

"The reason we’re still having the same conversation is because we thought implementation, again, was just check the box and say we did it, and we didn’t really implement it the way we should have implemented it," he said.

Moore says they have already started implementing changes.

He says a big part of the responsibility for addressing these issues will come from the Tacoma Police Department, but he also says the community must also be involved in bringing change.

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