Crime down across DC metro region for the 5th year in a row

WASHINGTON — Crime is down in the D.C. region, and that’s especially true for crimes such as murder, assault, robbery and car theft.

A report from the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments shows the drop in crime is part of a five-year trend.

The numbers are encouraging, said Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik, who is the police chiefs committee chair for the Council of Governments.

Part of the downward trend, he said, can be attributed to better communication and coordination among departments across the region.

“Five years ago, we probably weren’t as good as we should have been,”  he said, but now departments are sharing information quickly.

Despite the reduction in some crimes, the number of rapes has increased, and both violent crime and property crimes are up in some areas of the region.

In Montgomery County, Maryland, there were eight more homicides in 2017 versus 2016. Rape increased by 20 percent, with 396 cases reported in 2017 versus 331 in 2016.

“This is something we should be concerned with and focus on,” Pavlik said.

More reporting and a change in the category of sex offenses — the FBI changed the category to include sex offenses that weren’t categorized as rape in the past — may account for the uptick in percentage, he said.

Departments have done better, Pavlik said, with outreach and coordination with victim advocates.

“We’re getting better with the reporting,” he said. “We’re getting better with — it’s OK to come forward and share your story.”

In Prince George’s County, Maryland, crime was down across the board, with the biggest drop in burglaries — down by 27 percent.

In Prince William County, Virginia, the number of homicides dropped dramatically, with four reported in 2017, compared with 22 in 2016. But the number of rapes in the county jumped from 60 in 2016 to 112 in 2017. There were also more car thefts in 2017, 396 in all.

Fairfax County, Virginia, saw 20 homicides in 2017 compared with 19 the year before. The number of car thefts dropped by 14 percent, while aggravated assault was up by 4 percent. There was also a 13 percent increase in the number of rapes.

According to the report from the Council of Governments, Loudoun County, Virginia’s homicide numbers stayed flat at two reported for 2016 and the same number for 2017. There were six more rapes recorded in 2017 than the previous year, an increase of 10 percent.

Another area of concern, said Pavlik, is that the number of opioid-related deaths are up across the region.

“We know that this isn’t a law enforcement issue alone — that law enforcement can’t fight this by themselves,” Pavlik said. “This is something that as a region we need to continue to pay attention to.”

Kate Ryan

As a member of the award-winning WTOP News, Kate is focused on state and local government. Her focus has always been on how decisions made in a council chamber or state house affect your house. She's also covered breaking news, education and more.

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