Crime scene tape surrounds the area outside the Bing Crosby Theater in downtown Spokane where a man was stabbed in the torso Oct. 5.

With 17 homicides and counting in the Spokane this year, the Spokane Police Department is concerned about violent crime in the area.

“If you run the numbers, we’re on path to break the record number of homicides to the city,” said Sgt. Terry Preuninger.

An increase in non-fatal shootings and homicides is not only concerning to the citizens of Spokane, but to the police department tasked with investigating them, Preuninger said.

Criminologists agree that it’s easy to see patterns in homicides but difficult to find the cause, said Brian Wolf, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology and Criminology at the University of Idaho.

“Regarding homicide especially, it’s pretty easy to spot the trends, and it’s pretty difficult to come to solid conclusions on why,” Wolf said. Those that study crime look for structural changes in society to explain long-term trends, he said.

While Spokane police report 17 homicides this year, Preuninger emphasized that number could go up. Some deaths are obvious homicides and are classified as such immediately, while other suspicious deaths take time to investigate, with a medical examiner ruling required to classify them as homicides.

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