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Amid the most violent summer D.C. has seen in recent memory, with communities calling for tougher crime responses, an annual report from the Metropolitan Police Department reveals that the city saw a reduction in robberies last year, as well as increases in assaults involving a dangerous weapon and sexual assaults.
The report, published Aug. 7, finds that the District had a nine-percent reduction in violent crime overall last year, largely due to an 18 percent drop in robbery experienced citywide. (Violent crime includes homicides, sexual assaults, robberies, and armed assaults.) In contrast, gun crimes have surged by nearly 20 percent so far in 2015. Homicides have risen by more than a third compared with this point last year.
“Because of MPD’s good work, we have seen a significant decrease in violent crime in the District over the past decade,” Mayor Muriel Bowser writes in an introductory message to the annual report. “However, far too many vulnerable communities still live with unacceptable levels of crime and fear. That is why we continue to focus our resources where they are most needed, use innovative policing methods, and listen to the feedback we’re hearing in our neighborhoods.”
In absolute numbers, D.C. had 3,368 robberies in 2014, down from 4,085 in 2013. Still, thefts (larceny, but not including motor-vehicle-related thefts) jumped 13 percent between those years. (According to D.C.’s crime definitions, robbery is “taking of anything of value from another person by force, violence, or fear” while theft is “wrongfully obtaining or using the property of another with the intent to deprive the owner of the value thereof.”)
Meanwhile, total gun recoveries—a hot topic on officials’ minds—increased roughly 64 percent from 2013 to 2014. Since 2010, District police have collected 1,922 firearms per year on average. Arrests, however, trickled down about one percent, from 41,630 in 2013 to 41,186 the following year.
Sexual assaults and assaults with a dangerous weapon increased slightly between 2013 and 2014, by 4.5 and 3.5 percent, respectively.
While violent crime was down overall in 2014 as compared to 2013—including decreases of 27, 15, and 14 percent in the Third, Fourth, and Seventh police districts, respectively—it ticked up three percent in both the Second and Fifth districts. There were 6,194 violent crimes in 2014.
As City Paper previously reported, D.C. is seeing historically low levels of violent crime, despite the rough summer it’s having. Though 2015 could turn out to be an inflection point in that trend, homicides dropped nearly 60 percent from 2000 to 2013, as aggravated assaults and robberies saw 27.5 and 6.5 percent declines, respectively, according to a recent Urban Institute analysis.
Still, people who live and work in D.C. have been shocked by recent, highly publicized violent crimes. At a Ward 7 town hall meeting last night, community members expressed frustration towards the mayor and police chief; some residents said their communities have been neglected by the city.
“District residents were significantly safer in 2014,” Police Chief Cathy Lanier writes in her introductory message to the annual report. “[We] work around the clock to keep this city safe.”
Photo by Darrow Montgomery; screenshots via MPD report