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Tags: washington d.c. | violent crime | police | murder

D.C. Struggles to Curb Violent Crime Surge

By    |   Friday, 06 October 2023 11:18 AM EDT

Police in Washington, D.C., are struggling to curb a surge in violent crime this year that has many residents of the nation's capital fearful about leaving their homes.

According to police data obtained by The Wall Street Journal, the district has had 216 homicides this year, 38% more than at this time last year. It's also more than any full year from 2004 to 2020.

Conversely, the murder rate has been trending downward this year in big cities nationwide: by 24% in Los Angeles, 19% in Houston, 18% in Philadelphia, 12% in Chicago, and 11% in New York City.

"I definitely think public safety has been and continues to be the No. 1 concern for district residents," Lindsey Appiah, D.C.'s deputy mayor for public safety, told the Journal. Resident fear also is being driven by other types of crime, she said. Robberies have increased by 70% and car thefts have more than doubled.

Taking steps to combat the spike in violent crime, district officials have beefed up police patrols and enforced the juvenile curfew, in addition to passing emergency legislation in July that makes it easier to detain criminal suspects pretrial. Violent crime dropped after the law took effect and the prison population grew by 25%, Appiah told the Journal.

Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, became the second member of Congress this year to experience violent crime in Washington when he was carjacked Monday.

Law-enforcement officials the Journal spoke with said there is no single reason for D.C.'s increase in violent crime and cited factors including the flow of illegal guns into the city, a police force short on personnel, and residual pandemic effects. They also pointed out that D.C. killings decreased by 10% in 2022, which was more than most other big cities.

Most adult crime in the district is prosecuted by a U.S. attorney instead of an elected district attorney, the Journal reported. During fiscal year 2022, U.S. Attorney Matthew Graves reportedly declined to charge, at the time of arrest, 67% of offenses that would have been tried in D.C. Superior Court.

Graves, in office since 2021, said the charging rate is governed by circumstances beyond his control, but added that the rate was higher for the fiscal year that just ended on Sept. 30.

In 2023, 15 people have been killed by gunfire in the low-income neighborhood of Washington Highlands, which is nearly double the number at the same point in 2022, according to figures obtained by the Journal.

Holly Scott, a 52-year-old Washington Highlands resident, said she's nervous about being on neighborhood streets late at night and now leaves earlier to commute to her overnight job as a case manager. Scott also carries a licensed gun for protection.

"We don't feel safe," Julia Tutt, a family-engagement specialist at the community center on 9th Street, told the Journal.

On a recent night, Tutt asked a group of children ages 8 to 16 what they should do if someone starts shooting. While the group's consensus was to duck, several children said it was hard to resist the temptation of running away.

"Twice I did what you said, I hit the floor," 12-year-old Glenn Washington told Tutt. One time he bolted, however. "I was with other people. I saw them run, I got scared, so I ran, too," he said.

Glenn told the Journal he hoped to graduate from college.

"Another one of my goals is to be able to survive and live life until I'm a full-grown adult," he added.

Nicole Wells

Nicole Wells, a Newsmax general assignment reporter covers news, politics, and culture. She is a National Newspaper Association award-winning journalist.

© 2024 Newsmax. All rights reserved.


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Police in Washington, D.C., are struggling to curb a surge in violent crime this year that has many residents of the nation's capital fearful about leaving their homes.
washington d.c., violent crime, police, murder
582
2023-18-06
Friday, 06 October 2023 11:18 AM
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