DC saw most homicides in a decade in 2019

The District saw a record number of killings in 2019 with 166 homicides, a 4% increase over 2018, according to data released by D.C. police. This continues an upward trend since 2017 when D.C. police recorded 116 homicides.

Police Chief Peter Newsham, in a news conference, made comments that most victims and suspects live “high risk lifestyles,” including prior violent offenses and are usually committed between acquaintances.

One common factor in most of these killings are illegal firearms.

“Far too often we have seen the irreversible damage that illegal guns in the hands of violent offenders does to the lives and fabric of our community,” said Newsham. “So our primary focus on combating crime has always been and will continue to be removing illegal firearms from our neighborhoods.”

Newsham said that the city will increase the amount of surveillance cameras in the District by 75%, from 205 to 360 cameras. Installation is underway. When camera footage was available, it was effective in closing 40% of homicide cases.

The 4% increase in homicide is in line with national trends in large cities. New York, Atlanta, Detroit, Baltimore and even Prince George’s County saw increase in homicides this year.

Other crime statistics were more promising. There were almost 100 fewer sex abuse cases reported in D.C. in 2019 than in 2018.

In the largest shift in statistics this year, the number of sex abuse cases decreased 31%, from 275 cases in 2018 to 189 in 2019. 

In other categories, both violent and property crimes increased by 1%, which is about the same as the population growth in D.C. from 2018 to 2019.

It’s the second year in a row there were more property crimes.

However, the 1% increase is better than the year before, when there was a 4% increase in property crimes. By contrast, violent crime dropped 7% from 2017 to 2018 before increasing this year.

Burglaries were down 11%, while robberies were up 10%. Previously released statistics suggested more of this year’s robberies were unarmed compared to 2018.

Those interested in seeing the data for themselves can check out the D.C. Crime Cards tool, which allows users to crunch the numbers by category, location and time frame.

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