Posted on December 20, 2023

With Two More Killings, D.C. Homicide Toll This Year Is Worst Since 1997

Emily Davies, Washington Post, December 19, 2023

Twelve hours apart and 10 miles from each other, gunshots Monday ended the lives of two men and pushed the District’s annual homicide count to its highest level since 1997.

In 51 weeks, 264 people have been slain.

{snip}  Every ward experienced at least one homicide, according to police data, though Wards 7 and 8, both east of the Anacostia River, were particularly hard-hit.

The last time the District came close to this year’s homicide toll was in 2002, when the city recorded 262 killings, according to police data. In 1997, amid a period of municipal mismanagement and widespread social dysfunction, 302 people were killed in Washington.


This year’s deadly milestone is one District leaders have long feared. After the city surpassed 200 killings in September at the earliest point in a quarter-century, D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and Police Chief Pamela A. Smith vowed to use every available tool to drive down crime.

The mayor rolled out a new public safety package that would undo or amend a number of policing changes passed in the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder in 2020. Smith, in her strategic plan, discussed the police department’s new “robbery suppression initiative,” which uses real-time data analysis to determine some officer deployments.

D.C. Council members, too, put forward new plans to improve public safety — including one bill, introduced by council member Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), chairwoman of the council’s public safety and judiciary committee, that would allow police to randomly search people charged with violent offenses who are on pretrial release.

Still, after a particularly deadly summer, the violence continued after autumn arrived. {snip}