Violent crime in DC is falling, a trend city leaders are hopeful will continue this summer

Violent crime in D.C. is down so far this year compared to the first three and a half months of 2023, according to D.C. police data.

As of Friday, there’s been a 36% drop in homicides. So far this year, there have been 30, compared to the 47 reported at this point last year.

At a briefing this week, U.S. Attorney for D.C. Matthew Graves said “we continue to see from the summer, where the violence peaked in a wholly unacceptable fashion, reductions in levels of violence on a pretty steady trend line.”

Because crime was “historically bad” in 2023, Graves also used 2022 data to show progress in certain crime trends. Homicides are down 23% compared to the same time period in 2022, he said. D.C. reported nine homicides in January, and the last time there were nine or fewer homicides in a month was April 2019, Graves said.

Despite the positive trends, neighborhoods across the city remain apprehensive about the state of crime in D.C. City leaders are hoping elements of a sweeping anti-crime bill that Mayor Muriel Bowser signed this week, coupled with rising prosecutions and other programs, will produce meaningful changes in the public safety landscape.

“Crime is deeply personal,” Graves said. “When you read these headlines, and when you know people who’ve been the victims of violent crime, the trend lines can change all you want, but it is going to take time for people to absorb that.”

Assaults with a dangerous weapon are also down from 256 at this point last year, to 167 so far in 2024. Those, Graves said, are the most commonly charged crime at the time of arrest when there’s a nonfatal shooting.

“We watch this closely, because we care very much, obviously, about nonfatal shootings, because the difference between a nonfatal and a fatal shooting is just oftentimes aim,” Graves said.

The first few months of 2023 were bad with regard to violent crime, Graves said, but “May through September were terrible.” Carjackings, which are also down so far this year, “exploded” in the second half of last March, according to Graves.

The violent crime landscape peaked last summer, he said.

Numbers dropped toward the end of last year, but “given where we were by the summer, though, those numbers were largely reflecting a less bad outcome compared to the year over year, which does not feel like improvement.”

While violent crime is down 16% this year, Graves said, other crimes are trending upward. For one, there’s been a 9% increase in theft this year.

As for his office, Graves said it’s continuing “to see roughly nine in 10 people charged with our most serious violent crimes charged at the time of arrest.”

In many of the cases his office doesn’t prosecute, it’s because the victim doesn’t want to go forward, he said.

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Scott Gelman

Scott Gelman is a digital editor and writer for WTOP. A South Florida native, Scott graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019. During his time in College Park, he worked for The Diamondback, the school’s student newspaper.

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