DC Touts Lowest Murder Rate in Nearly 50 Years

Eric Tucker, Seattle Pi, December 29, 2011

The nation’s capital, ravaged more than two decades ago by a violent crack epidemic that drove up murder rates, is on pace to record the fewest number of homicides in nearly a half century, officials said Thursday.

The District of Columbia’s decline mirrors a nationwide trend of falling rates in major American cities, but it’s nonetheless a stark drop for a city that had 479 homicides 20 years ago.

There were 108 homicides in 2011 as of Thursday, down from 132 at the same time last year, according to D.C. police department figures. The homicide rate hasn’t been this low since 1963, officials said, though the numbers have been steadily dropping over the past two decades.

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier credited the decline to the quick turnaround time in closing cases, which removes the killer from the street before he can kill again or himself be killed in retribution—a common problem in gang violence. She also touted the department’s work in targeting violent gang members and improved technology and use of social media that helps detectives analyze data and solve crimes.


Still, the success in bringing down the murder rate is hardly unique to the nation’s capital.

New York City, for instance, has had a two-decade decline in crime, and officials there predict a murder rate drop of at least 4 percent in 2011. {snip} And Baltimore officials said last week they were on pace to record fewer than 200 homicides for the year, the lowest rate in more than 20 years.


Kris Baumann, the leader of the D.C. police officers’ union, said he was pleased by the homicide decline but disappointed that the numbers were as high as they were and by the fact that crime totals in several categories, including sex abuse, theft and theft from auto, had increased in 2011 from last year. Overall, total crime is up by 2 percent over last year, the figures show.


“I’m thrilled and everyone is thrilled,” he said, but added, “The numbers are still shocking.”

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  • Jasoncreighton

    I recall reading in a book (wish I could remember the name) that says that murder rates in the US  are dropping due to abortion being legalised in the US. Crime rates dropped when babies that would have lived, would now have been the in the prime time of their lives, crime wise, namely murder.

    Demographically speaking. 

    • I’ve read the book but I thought that he either tried to debunk that theory or it was someone else who put it forward.  The idea is sort of in line with his type of reasoning but, again, it may be a little different than you have suggested.   But I may be incorrect.

  • Sjkool75

    Freakonomics is the book you couldn’t recall. 

  • The DC murder rate is declining because DC blacks are being encouraged to migrate to PG County, MD, in order to make DC proper safe for white yuppies.  More whites and fewer blacks over time means a declining murder rate.  It’s as simple as that.

    • Oil Can Harry

      QD, another factor is white technology. Crime has dropped in recent years because scientific advances (DNA, luminol, more surveillance cameras, etc.)  make it more likely that thugs will be caught after their 2nd crime rather than their 30th.

      The nationwide drop in crime is NOT because blacks and hispanics have suddenly had a moral awakening.  Not that most amren readers had to be told that.

      • There is a demographic issue here insomuch as the total number of possible or probable criminals may have been reduced either because of incarceration, death, re-location, or temporary swings in local birthrates.

    • Awtardola

      Hey Question Diversity:
      Blacks are still the majority of D.C.’s Population and has a black  mayor. So, your theory doesn’t add up. Thanks!!

      • It might depending on the actual numbers.  Of course, it might be hard to find out how many have migrated to PG etc.  There are crime numbers for PG so if we do a comparison that might shed some light on “Question Diversity”s theory.

  • Korst

     Murder rates cannot be correlated too closely with overall crime. There have been enormous strides forward in pre-hospital and emergency room care in the last thirty years. I would wager good money that a fair amount of those murdered 20-30 years ago could have survived given today’s medical advancements, obviously assuming they were not discovered DOA.

    A more indicative view on crime would be adding the number of felonious assaults and attempted murders in with the murder rates. I’m am not sure if this information even exists however.

    • A. Windaus

      ‘Violent crime’ in general is the better indicator of how safe your city is.

  • Aggravated assault, or aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, or aggravated assault with a firearm.  Depends on your state’s criminal codes.

  • MAJ

    Kris Baumann, the leader of the D.C. police officers’ union, said he was pleased by the homicide decline but disappointed…by the fact that crime totals in several categories, including sex abuse, theft and theft from auto, had increased in 2011 from last year. Overall, total crime is up by 2 percent over last year, the figures show.

    “I’m thrilled and everyone is thrilled,” he said.

    This guy is thrilled? What a stupid thing to say. I wonder what else he gets excited about?

    I basically point to better (white) medical care in saving victims of violent crime. If this is progress then we are doomed.

  • Anonymous

    “Cathy Lanier credited the decline to the quick turn around time in closing cases, which removes the killer from the street before he kills again or is killed in retribution.”

    Good Lord! – Sounds just like ferrets fighting in a sack.

  • Anonymous

    Yet child abuse rates have gone up.

    • There’s a lot of crazy things going on that really can’t be explained by a single theory or theme.  I don’t really like to think much about child abuse because its just the nastyist of all crimes and maybe because I have a child it touches me in a different way.  Having said that, if we think about both violent crimes against children without sex and sex crimes – and there may be some differences as to the people who commit the crimes – it really seems that a large percentage of the time a boyfriend/stepfather (and sometime girlfriend/stepmother) is involved.  The circumstance leading up to this is , of course, divorce and just plain having a lot relations with different partners.

  • Anonymous

    As someone who lives in the D.C. area, the numbers are encouraging.  But if you’re white, it’s still an unsafe city in which to walk around, especially at night.   

    • Late at night there’s probably no big city that’s particularly safe to walk around in.  Even smaller places like Flint or Peoria.  I was in Binghampton NY over the summer and I don’t think I would like to walk around there at night.

  • When Vincent Gray got elected (now there’s a recall effort against him), the WaPo speculated that this would be the last regular mayoral election in D.C. with the District having a black majority.  Now, could things change and the white gentrification go into reverse?  Yes.


    Of course, DC and the lamestream media will NEVER mention how losing the Heller case (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/District_of_Columbia_v._Heller) 2 1/2 years ago might have something to do with this.  The case forced DC to allow residents: (1) to own handguns, and (2) to keep operational firearms in their home.

    If nothing else, the fearmongering that murder rates would go up due to more “guns on the streets” has been proven false.

    Actively promoting our 2nd Amendment “Right to Keep and Bear Arms” (RKBA), including “Shall Issue” for concealed carry permits, is in law-abiding whites own self-interest.

    • It would be interesting to know how homicides are broken out by street killings vs. home invasions or things in usually crime-free neighborhoods.  While Heller is a good indea, if most of the killings are gang or drug related the ruling probably hasn’t had any real effect.

  • BJ

    No, I do not believe that Whites have most abortions. White women use birth control . Minorities are known for NOT using any birth control.