Bremerton Crime: Has the City Turned A Corner?

Sifting through our story archives Wednesday, I came across a story by Sun reporter JoAnne Marez from the early nineties entitled, “City in a drug war.”
She was referring to Bremerton.
She writes of violent, fatal clashes between gangs and turf wars between rival drug dealers. Here’s a clipping:
“On South Montgomery Avenue the remnants of a once respectable, middle class Bremerton neighborhood still are visible. An elderly couple putters in their yard, tending their neatly clipped lawn, watering their flowers. Here and there, a homeowner paints his house or mends a fence.
But down the block, in either direction, things have changed.
At one end sits a nondescript house with a weed-choked yard, the scene of a violent clash last December over drug turf. When it was over, two teen-age crack dealers lay bathed in their own blood.
At the other end, Bremerton police fight a seemingly never-ending battle to force crack peddlers from the street. Drive-by shootings and assaults have become commonplace.
South Montgomery is perhaps a symbol of the urban decay and escalating violence that threatens Bremerton’s once tranquil neighborhoods.”
Has it gotten better since then? Just four years ago, I wrote of Bremerton’s state high rate of violent crime per capita (the graphic from the story is pictured). But in doing the story, I found that most residents feel safe here, despite these facts as I wrote them:
“A city of renters. A city with heavy drug use. A city with nighttime drunkards who like to brawl. A city with an understaffed police force. A city whose local jail has a “revolving door.” A city whose landlords allegedly ignore their renters’ criminal activity.

Many factors can be blamed for Bremerton’s violent crime rate, one that’s emerged in the past 12 years as the highest in the state.”

More recently, however, Bremerton’s crime rate has headed south. Renewing its downtown core and fighting crime in new ways are believed to have helped.

In the coming weeks, I expect to get the statistics about crime in Bremerton and see just how the city is faring in criminal activity. I suspect crime is falling in Bremerton.

But I’m curious: how far do you think we’ve come from that “City in a drug war,” Marez wrote about?

4 thoughts on “Bremerton Crime: Has the City Turned A Corner?

    1. Hey Shawn,

      Great point. The story was only available in our internal archives — until now. I have posted it to our web site, and the link is now embedded at the top of this blog entry.


  1. I have lived my entire life in and around Bremerton. I have always thought that Bremerton gets a bad rap on crime. When I read the paper I see a lot more crime reported in other parts of the county. Our “gang” problems were pretty minor compared to the kinds of problems they have in Tacoma for example.

    Bremerton has a lot going for it, our predominantly military population means a lot of young people, but young people with structure in their lives. Folks are taking more pride in their neighborhoods. We have worked with our neighbors and the BPD to keep an eye on crime, and helped get some bad neighbors busted a couple of years ago. Several of us went so far as to contact the landlord and encouraged the city to send an abatement letter to them.

    Bremerton is a great place to raise your family, and with the new parks and businesses moving in, it is even getting better!

  2. We moved here 10 years ago *against* the advice of some friends, who kept regaling us with tales of “crime”. Given that we’d had drive-by shootings a quarter mile from our old house in Burien, we decided to take a risk.
    I gotta say, things are waaaayyy calmer here – and I’ve seen many neighborhood start to turn the corner – there are more young families owning homes here, and I think that helps a bunch.

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