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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

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Study: Violent crimes in D.C. have decreased over last two decades

The number of violent crimes and homicides in D.C. has decreased and then flatlined recently compared to the numbers from 20 years ago, according to a recent report from the Urban Institute.

Violent crime peaked in the city in the 1990s, and homicides totaled 397 in 1996, the study found. Homicides hit a record low 88 in 2012, though that number has increased since then to about 100 homicides per year.

“D.C. stands out as particularly successful at extending that crime decline over time,” the report reads. “That success is largely the result of a renewed emphasis on community-oriented policing and evidence-based tactics, as well as changing demographics and economic growth.”

The study credits the decline in violent crime to policies and practices from the Metropolitan Police Department including foot patrols, a tip line, engagement on social media, gunfire detection sensors and improved crime data.

Since Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier became the head of the department in 2007, she has also rejected policies that alienate residents like “hot spot” and zero-tolerance policing where officers crack down on minor offenses and swarm high-crime areas – that shift has also helped the crime rate because more residents are willing to help police, the report found.

Economic growth, demographic changes and faster response times from D.C. Fire and EMS has also helped crime drop over time, according to the study.

Of the 39 neighborhood clusters in the city studied, most of the areas showed a slight decrease in the incidents of violent crime between 2000 to 2014. The area including GW, Foggy Bottom and West End had four fewer violent crimes per 1,000 residents in that time period.

“Much of DC’s reduction in violent crime is the result of big declines in a few neighborhoods that previously had high levels of violence,” the report reads.

Gun crime is up 20 percent this year, and Lanier has recently been in meetings and press conferences to condemn the spike in violence this summer.

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