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Local officials want more answers for rise in homicides

WASHINGTON —  Homicide rates have risen in D.C. and its suburbs, despite an overall decrease in violent crimes.

The number of homicides increased by 55.8 percent in D.C., and in Montgomery and Prince George’s counties, according to Ron Hardy, who made the remarks during the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments board of directors meeting Wednesday.

Hardy, Takoma Park Police Department’s emergency preparedness manager, is a member of the Council of Governments’ Police Chiefs Committee, which presented the crime figures as part of its annual crime report.

Hardy called the increase “significant” and noted that rape offenses had risen by 3.7 percent.

Breaking it down, Montgomery County had a dozen more homicides last year than in 2014; D.C. had 52 more homicides; and Prince George’s County had 28 more homicides.

The committee’s report attributed the rise in homicides to illegal firearms, domestic violence and gang-related violence. But some local leaders pressed for more details.

“We’ve had illegal firearms for decades, so what’s different about last year?”asked  D.C. Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, a member of the Council of Governments board board.

Montgomery County Councilman Roger Berliner, the board’s chairman, added, “Can you dive beneath the numbers and tell us what is happening on the ground that brings this about?”

The committee is expected to spend time looking beyond the numbers for trends.

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