City Desk

D.C. Murders Way Down Even East Of The River

MPD Chief Cathy Lanier

Last week, the District had 130 homicides for the year. That's way down from the 172 at the same time last year.

What's perhaps most impressive with this roughly 20 percent decline is that the drop is nearly citywide, according to the latest police stats. Murders are declining even in the most notorious neighborhoods.

The drop includes neighborhoods east of the river.

In 2008, there were 45 homicides in 7D. This year: 36.

In 2008, there were 40 homicides in 6D. This year: 32.

The only district to experience no real drop in homicides is 3D—where most of the media live and work. There were 17 homicides in that district in 2008. This year: 16.

*photo by Darrow Montgomery.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin
  • Jamie

    As of Wednesday, Chicago had 418 homicides. Their total for 2008 was 509. Wow, looks like they're on track for a 20% decline in 2009.

    Let's pick another city, how about Boston?

    "Violent crime has dipped dramatically in Boston, with homicides on a pace to decrease by 20 percent by year’s end"

    Yet another discussion of the crime rate in DC that doesn't bother to mention the single most important thing about this trend:


    The only thing missing is a quote from Lanier taking credit for it, but I'm sure there will be plenty of those as the year-end approaches.

  • Publicyst

    Jamie- Someone had written in one of these posts before about "Freakonomics". The theory was pretty out there, but the economist was able to "quantify" a drop in crime to the legalization of abortion in the 70s. Not saying this was the case, unless there was an upsurge in abortions in the late 80s, but his point was that the local authorities take credit for the sudden reduction in crime, but are not able to justify how it happened. And since there is no uniformity in what Boston, Chicago or DC does, there is definitely room to analyze this further.

    Just thought it was an interesting comment by that person a few months ago.

    - Mahogany (dis is a pryceluss naim) Joines

  • Marciela

    The credit for lowering homicides in DC, if that is indeed what happened, goes to the men and women on the streets, not to Lanier.

  • Manor

    It is indeed a national trend, I wish our local law enforcement and government could take any credit, but I don't think its justified. And I don't quite notice the 20% drop in gunfire, I must say. Nor do I think overall violence and crime has dropped either. The DC CapStat is 4 months out of date at present regarding crime, but it looks like its a pretty normal year there.

  • Typical DC BS

    Please, DC / inner city residents are just smoking better weed, so they can't shoot as straight anymore.

  • Ward4Resident

    Well, this trend has not been evidenced in the Petworth/Brightwood area. Seems like all the crime from Anacostia is coming up our way.

  • Greg

    It seems to me that reports of shootings have not decreased by 20%. Hospitals are better at saving lives (along with paramedics) and criminals are not as good at hitting targets...

  • WHJ

    There is no decrease in PSA 302 in Columbia Heights in fact unfortunately a 57% increase year to date. Actually a 460% increase in PSA 302 since 2007. Not helpful to oversimply an issue like this.

  • noodlez



  • ReReRan

    With a name like noodlez, I doubt it you.

  • downtown rez

    I credit City Paper. Their new blogs are keeping DC's cantankerous malcontents off the streets and in front of their computers.

  • DB

    Has the rate gone down steadily since '04?

    And up in Mont.Co./Prince Georges/etc.?

    If so... one might credit... Gentrification.

    If the non-rich (those more prone to "business" murders) can no longer afford to live in the area...

  • WHJ

    A study will probably show that crime in the most gentrified areas has remained basically flat since 2003/04 and the PSA realignment.

  • Rick Mangus

    Figures are figures, don't you feel safe already?

  • Comrade Al Gonzales

    Legalizing abortion in the 1970s is responsible for the nation-wide drop in homicides today. Mahogany, you are correct.

  • The Advoc8te

    What the hell is "the most notorious neighborhoods"? Please specify. What are the names of these notorious neighborhoods? I would like to know seeing as how it's very rare to even see a Ward 8 or Ward 7 neighobrhood name in the news - we are all just stuck under the banner of "southeast".

    Most DC residents - especailly local news reporters can't even name 3 "Southeast" neighborhoods. It's really gotten past annoying to just lazy and it only enforces the often over exagerated stereotypes of our communities.

    It needs to stop. It's not only annoying its just bad reporting.

  • The Advoc8te

    From Ward4Resident: "Well, this trend has not been evidenced in the Petworth/Brightwood area. Seems like all the crime from Anacostia is coming up our way."

    I'm not even going to address the pure ignorance of the comment. That is evident on its face. I would just like to let Ward4Resident know that before you insult a whole community of people with a statement that is not only baseless but totally inaccurate learn the geography. Anacostia is a NEIGHBORHOOD in Ward 8 (surprise Ward 8 has neighborhoods too), a small, friendly neighborhood that is home to a lot of hardworking, educated, law abiding, homeowners and residents. I am sure when you said "Anacostia" you thought you were using a dirty word but it's not. People in Anacostia have pride in their neighborhood just I hope you have in yours – they do not appreciate being insulted by someone who by the very ignorance of their comment has never even visited let alone live in “Anacostia”. The most frustrating thing about living in Anacostia (or in any neighborhood in Ward 8 for that matter) is educating ignorant people like you who get all their rather limited (and inaccurate) information about Ward 8 from the evening news. You owe the residents of Anacostia and Ward 8 an apology.

  • downtown rez

    +1 @ Advoc8te

  • Jason Cherkis

    Notorious neighborhoods: Highland Dwellings, Lincoln Heights,Benning Heights. There's three. Deal with it.

  • Jason Cherkis

    And yes, whoever posted that comment about "Anacostia" moving up to Petworth is just nuts.

  • The Advoc8te

    "Notorious neighborhoods: Highland Dwellings, Lincoln Heights,Benning Heights. There's three. Deal with it."

    Thanks for replying Jason. A couple of things...

    I'm no expert on all things Ward 7 and Ward 8 so I could be wrong but I can't find a neighborhood name for "Highland Dwellings". I've heard of a former public housing complex called Highland Dwellings - which has since been torn down but it's not a neighborhood and I think that Highland Dwellings (the public housing complex) was in the Washington Highlands neighborhood of Ward 8.

    Lincoln Heights (Ward 7) and Benning Heights (Ward 7) are neighborhoods. I don't have an opinion if they are "notorious" or not as I don't live there but perhaps it would be better (and frankly less confusing) to readers who are not familiar with "East of the River" to say clarify the neighborhood names if you they are going to be called described as "the most notorious". Fact is most DC residents are not familiar with East of the River geography AT ALL (example, Ward4Residents comment) and they see "notorious" and "East of the River" and they ascribe that description to an entire section of the city without a second thought.

    This is why there are those of us who live in Wards 7 and 8 are calling where we live "River East" as opposed to "East of the River". We realize we are fighting a losing battle to try and change the negative connotations associated with "East of the River".

    That is how we are “dealing with it”.

  • The Advoc8te

    To be fair the City Paper has been the most likely to specify Ward 8 and Ward 7 neighborhoods by name in their reporting but we still have a long way to go overall in local media coverage of "East of the River". I think it's one of those things that you don't notice until you live on our side of the bridge.

    When I try to describe what it's like to people who don't live here I ask them to imagine reading local news reports and replace all mentions of Wards 1 - 6 neighborhood names with "West of the River". Not only would it compromise on the informative nature on the article but depending on the overall type of news reports it wouldn't be long before "West of the River" would develop a certain type of reputation - even a "notorious" one.

    Just my 2 cents. :)

  • Jason Cherkis

    I think was specific -- I said 6th and 7th Districts. I think Advoc8te you are being terribly silly here. And way too PC. The point is the neighborhoods east of the river still struggle with poverty, crime, drugs, juvenile deaths (the most juvenile deaths year in and year out can be found in Ward 8), and at least one suspect councilmember, etc.

    Highland Dwellings--yes, is a project. Washington Highlands--a neighborhood. I meant Washington Highlands. We could add to the list the neighborhood at Malcolm X and MLK Avenue behind Player's. Etc.

    Historically, the most crime ridden areas were 5D, 6D, and 7D....

  • Swing and a miss

    The area behind Malcolm X and MLK - notorious neighborhood, really? Wow! That will be news to the residents and MPD. Way to completely undermine any pretend credibility you had on this issue (by the by, nice attempt on using "Player's" to try and establish your cred, but, just between us - it is not Player's Lounge anymore, and calling it "Player's" when your not an old regular is sad). Just to be clear, that area (MLK/Malcolm X) is one of the least problematic areas in the entire Seventh District, relatively speaking (and has been for at least the past decade). Way to represent, Cherkis.

    Please, by all means, keep sucking up to Lanier, she treats you like a real reporter and you rightfully love her for it. Just quit pretending you have any idea of what you are talking about (times are tough, all due love for leveraging your bets/suction accordingly). However, the less you say, the better - you had us at crime statistics and how much you love Lanier. Keep it real, Hard Times Player.

  • Jason Cherkis

    Swing and a Miss: I was talking historically -- the neighborhood behind Malcolm X and MLK is an area famous for burned out cars, stolen autos, and murders. I can think of four murders I've written about in that neighborhood since 2000.

    In the neighborhood's PSA, there has been only a four percent decrease in violent crime this past year. From Nov. 2007 to Nov. 2008, there were nine murders. This past year, in that PSA alone--there were 8 murders.

    During the 2007-2008 timeframe: there were 25 sex-abuse crimes, 76 armed robberies, and 48 ADWs, and 202 stolen autos.

    From 2008 to 2009, there were 55 ADWs, 11 sex-abuse crimes, and 182 stolen autos.

    Still think you know what you're talking about?

  • Jason Cherkis

    Swing And A Miss: If you get even more specific with the data, your neighborhood--say within 1500 feet of the 400 block of Newcomb, there has been one murder this year--two the previous nov. to nov. time frame--as well as a total of 36 violent crimes and 90 property crimes (a four percent increase from last year) including 30 stolen autos.

    So yeah, your neighborhood is perfect.

  • The Advoc8te

    @Jason. I get what you were trying to say but I am going to have to go with Swing and a miss on the reference to the area behind Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. I live there and its a nice part of the neighborhood. I walk my dog everyday and I talk to my neighbors who are really nice people and who work hard to keep their small part of the Congress Heights neighborhood safe, clean and family friendly. There has been crime - but show me anyplace in the city that doesn't and most of the serious crime we have experienced there is committed from folks outside of the area. That area is actaully one of the most stable areas which is why when we have an uptick in violent crime such as the recent carjackings everyone was taken back. It was contrary to what we've seen - "even in East of the River" (yes I am a little sore about that title). The single family homes far outweight the rental properties. Yes, there are some rental nuisance properties (usaully owned by absentee owners who live in the "less notorious" parts of the city but I definetly wouldn't label an entire neighborhood or part of the neighborhood as "notorious". If it's notorious it's news to me and I would hazard a guess news to my neighbors.

    Perhaps I am being "silly" or "too PC" but I then again I live here and I along with my neighbors who would agree experience the Southeast bias on a daily basis. As a resident you experience it first hand when you try (and fail)to order a pizza, call a cab or invite someone over for dinner. They are all so concerned about the notorious and dangerous Southeast/East of the River they have read about.

  • The Advoc8te

    BTW - What PSA number were you looking at?


  • Monique

    I think the Brightwood area has turned into a horrible place to live. One of the worst slumlords in DC...BT buys buildings and allows crack dealers to move in. One of his apartment buildings up the street caught fire a few weeks ago and those people a force to leave in the soot ..residue. Drug dealing is def on the up swing..sad so sad!

  • Jason Cherkis

    I'm looking at your PSA number, the PSA that covers your neighborhood. Look, I'm all for neighborhood pride. That's one thing. But ignoring the obvious and systematic and historic problems in your own neighborhood won't make your neighborhood any more livable.

    You mentioned a number of attributes that your neighborhood has: 1) you can walk your dog; 2) most people own their own homes and then you run out of steam. [Nice anti-renter bias].

    Ward 8 still has the most child deaths of any ward in the city. And has for years. Your neighborhood still has a fairly high crime rate unless you want to ignore the rapes and the ADWs and the auto thefts. I'm sure a lot of that crime is from outsiders. But so what?

    I get it. You feel that people are biased against Ward 8 and Ward 7. But you can't cry bias every time a reporter states a fact. On your own blog, you praised the police for their increased patrols a few weekends ago. You must have wanted the police around for a reason.

  • The Advoc8te

    Jason I asked for the PSA number. Parts of our neighborhood include two different PSAs so I just wanted to know the PSA that you were referencing. BTW I go to my PSA monthly meeting every month so I am no stranger to crime stats over here.

    I don't think anyone is asking anyone to ignore crime in our communities I think what we are asking for here (and in general) is a more balanced take on our communities. For whatever reason historically media coverage of "East of the River" or "Southeast" generally entails one of three things crime/poverty/Barry. True those are part of the River East reality but they aren't the ONLY parts of our reality and it doesn't help when our reality is described in overly broad terms, geographically or otherwise.

    We aren't trying to be picky or petty but we are trying to bring more awareness that just because things have been done a certain way doesn't exactly make them right - or relevant today. That is a big reason that you are seeing an explosion in the number of River East blogs. People who live in these communities want to educate and inform those outside of River East what is actaully happening in River East which doesn't always jive whith what is reported about River East. Living in Wards 7 and 8 is more than a headline or a blurb in the city's crime stats.

    I hope you can understand where we are coming from. At the end of the day, I like to think that by even dialoguing about this is a step in the right direction. We don't always have to agree but neither should we always assume either.

  • Deanwoodenizen

    Way to represent, Advoc8te! I'm proud to call you neighbor and Ward 7 my home.

  • Jamie

    Two points on crime in Columbia Heights/PSA 3D:

    1) Analysis of homicides at a hyper-local level is pointless. A change of 17 homicides to 16 (or 10, or 25) is not a trend. The numbers are too small. A single violent event in a year where 3 or 4 people are killed, or the lack of such an event in another year, can make an apparently huge difference in crime. But it doesn't mean anything. The numbers are too small.

    2) Looking at just the number of crimes is also pointless. The crime rate (number of crimes per citizen) is what matters.

    The population in Columbia Heights has dramatically increased in the last two years.

    Given this, and that the actual number of crimes has remained about steady in two years, if you actually looked at the crime rate instead of the pure number of crimes, you would probably find it has decreased dramatically.

    Of course, when talking about homicides, this still doesn't mean a lot given the small number of crimes involved. My point is, it's not even accurate to say "homicides have remained about steady" since the # of homicides per resident has likely decreased.

  • Jason Cherkis

    I looked at PSA 705. Like I've stated before, it's great and all to be a neighborhood booster. But that doesn't mean you should freak out when someone writes that your neighborhood has a history of violence and mayhem.

    WCP has devoted more time and more stories to Ward 8 than any other publication that I can think of....

  • The Advoc8te

    But Jason you didn't write that "our neighborhood" has a history of violence. You weren't even specific with the "neighborhoods" themselves or the PSAs in your article. Police districts are made up of several PSAs so I don't think it's the most accurate to rely purely on overall numbers especailly when you reference "notorious neighborhoods". The article title clearly states "DC Murders down even East of the River" and then from within the article itself, "Murders are declining even in the most notorious neighborhoods."

    There was no mention of the names of these "notorious neighborhoods" (which would be more acuratly described as blocks within a specific neighborhood)or even if they were in EOA but the reader sees your title and keys in on 'even East of the River" and is going to assume that all these notorious neighborhoods must be in East of the River (btw I've read that Columbia Heights has a higher crime rate than Congress Heights). It would have been more accurate for the headline to have read "Murders are down even in PSAs with historicaly higher levels of violence" if you wanted to go that route but you didn't.

    No one is minimizing WCP's coverage of Ward 8 but should we just be so appreciative of any attention that Ward 8 gets that we should forgo the most accurate or balanced reporting? This Ward 8 resident thinks not.

    I'm not trying to beat a dead horse here or accuse you of being in involved in some big conspiracy to make Ward 8 look bad all I am saying is that knowing how everyone (especally the media) is so quick to jump on the bandwagon that "all things horrible are in Southeast" that everyone takes care to be as accurate and specific when reporting on things in River East. Contrary to popular belief Ward 8 and Ward 7 are not identical,no more than neighborhoods in Ward 8 are indentical, no more than certain blocks in the same neighborhood are identical. They all have their own identity and their own challenges and strengths.

    Again, no one is "freaking out" when someone writes that our neighorhood has a history of "violence and mayhem" but if that is all they write about then yes, we get a little annoyed and "freaked out". There are a lot of positive things to write about in River East, in Ward 8, in Congress Heights, etc. I know - I write about them every day and so do the other bloggers over here because we are tired of all the stories being so lopsided.

    If a shoot out happens in Columbia Heights it is reported as happening in Columbia Heights. If a shooting happens in Congress Heights it's going to be reported as either a) Southeast b) East of the River or c) Anacostia (which is why most of the city thinks that the proper name for Ward 8 is Anacostia).

    Responsibility for all things that happen in Wards 7 and 8 is a heavy burden for people who live in Wards 7 and 8 to carry and it's not fair.

  • The Advoc8te

    One last thing (well probably not but for now lol). I don't know how "notorious" some of our neighborhoods can be when the average person doesn't even know specific names or the basic geography of neighborhoods in Wards 7 and 8. Neighborhood names have been replaced with vague references to "notorious" housing projects (ex. Barry Farm and Highland Dwellings).

    We are all just lumped in under the overly broad heading of "Southeast". Entire communities of people have lost their neighborhood identity because it's more convienent to use "Southeast" or "East of the River" in a headline.

    It was convienent but it has also been detrimental in the perception of Wards 7 and 8 by people who are do not have first hand experience in either or both words - either living or working here. I wouldn't be surprised if most people in DC didn't know that "Southeast" is composed of two diffent Wards (7 and 8) and two different police districts (6D and 7D).

  • Jason Cherkis

    If anything, I think you are making my point. Look at the headline "even East of the River" ....I was reporting good news, murders are down even in perceived rough neighborhoods, neighborhoods with a history of violence.The reason I wrote this item was based on a comment on another blog about crime. The writer insisted that murders were still up in Ward 8. I checked. They aren't. Good news.

    I stand by the headline.

    I'm taken a little aback by your last graph:
    "Responsibility for all things that happen in Wards 7 and 8 is a heavy burden for people who live in Wards 7 and 8 to carry and it's not fair."

    If you thought it wasn't fair or too much of a burden than you wouldn't be commenting on this post or publishing a blog.

  • The Advoc8te

    "If you thought it wasn't fair or too much of a burden than you wouldn't be commenting on this post or publishing a blog."

    I'm sorry, you have completly lost me. Can you explain?

    "....I was reporting good news, murders are down even in perceived rough neighborhoods, neighborhoods with a history of violence."

    It IS good news and it would have been perfect if you could have articulated it THAT way. Personaly, I would have been fine if we could have gotten a "percieved" in front of "notorious neighborhoods". Without that for the uniformed reader they COULD pull more negative (notorious) than positive (murders are down).

    Perhaps on this point we can just agree to disagree but I hope that I was able to provide a perspective from those of us who read news reports from this side of the Anacostia. :)

  • Urban_Architect

    Perhaps the issue is merely word choice. If the statement had read “murders are declining even in the most notorious wards”, or perhaps in the “most notorious police districts” (since the percentages used, are in fact referencing police districts), then maybe the backlash might not have been as strong. I don’t think it’s correct to assume, however, that the readers of this post know what the most notorious neighborhoods are within the 6th and 7th Districts, so if you’re going to use that terminology, you might consider defining what neighborhoods you consider to be “notorious”.

    Perhaps it’s being picky on our part to point this out, but I think what is prompting some of this uproar, goes to a much larger topic, the generalization or use of certain words, like “Anacostia”, which are often used to describe all neighborhoods east of the river—except in this post the generalization stems from the lack of definition of what the notorious neighborhoods in 6 & 7D actually are, (if you are in fact referencing specific neighborhoods). Residents of these areas (myself included) are often wrongly classified as being no-good, crack, smoking whores who run around and kill each other all day, just because we live in SE, ward 7, and/or ward 8—when in reality, we all know various demographics make up all communities (no matter what part of the city we’re talking about). I think the media (and the City overall for that matter) will continue to see this type of backlash against the over-generalization of the people who live east of the river as the trend of “Advoc8tes” continues to grow. Residents are attempting to re-invent the perceptions of their wards and/or their individual neighborhoods as these communities evolve. And whether people like it or not, they are going to continue to fight out loud, until everyone starts to listen.

    Putting generalizations aside, if you were to release the list of “notorious neighborhoods”, there are going to be some people who will argue until they are blue in the face that their neighborhood is not what you say it is—and sometimes merely because they don’t want it to be perceived as such, regardless of crime statistics. And I think it comes down to people not wanting their neighborhoods to be known for one thing and one thing only, crime. I’m a homeowner (and blogger) in Barry Farm. When I first read this post, I didn’t have a problem with the word choice, because let’s face it, I live in probably the MOST notorious neighborhood in the District and assumed you were referencing Barry Farm as one of your “notorious neighborhoods”. But quite frankly, I prefer that Barry Farm not be thought of as a crime haven or some big, bad neighborhood. And I tend to be a pretty strong advocate for all the good things going on, but I’m not blind and I don’t live in a bubble. Regardless of how nice some of the houses are and how friendly my neighbors are, we do still in fact, have a crime problem. It may not be the same neighborhood as it was 20 years ago, so perhaps it’s not as “notorious” as some other areas, but it ain’t no Georgetown, so when I hear murder is down from last year in 7D, I’m happy, because it appears as though something “good” has occurred.

    If anything, thanks for posting the numbers and for spawning a very interesting discussion via the comments.

  • The Advoc8te

    @UrbanArchitect. As usual, you present exactly what I wanted to say so much more eloquently. :) Your perspective was spot on.

    I've said all along this discussion was probably the best thing that came out of this post.

  • Ward 8 Rez

    Keep reporting negative news about East of the River so that we can keep those lily white girls from Ohio and Michigan "west" of the river and keep East of the River the best kept secret for young,urban,black professionals!!!

  • WHJ

    In PSA302 the Murders unfortunately have gone from 3 in 2007, 7 in 2008, 11 in 2009. My math was wrong in that murders are up from 2007 to 2009 in PSA 302 is 260% or 365%. Overall in this key PSA crime rates are not trending down which is what is desired and aspected. Crime is/was too high in the past and it is not good for it remain the same. BTW population as basically remained flat on a slight increase. Another to understand is 302 represents in many ways DC's immediate future so in trending increas in homcide and no or little progress in other areas is a very bad sign.

  • Urban_Architect

    um...Ward 8 Rez...while I agree that east of the river could be considered a "best kept secret" not all residents are "young, urban, black professionals"...and I would hope you would be ok, with "others" living/working there as well--regardless of whether some of us are "lily white girls from Ohio and Michigan".

  • The Advoc8te

    You took the words right out of my mouth! Just as we ask others not to make assumptions from across the bridge we shouln't make assumptions ourselves - you may be pleasanly surprised who yoru neighbor is - both in real life and online.

  • Pingback: Media Notes on Crime « Borderstan