Mayor Gray and MPD Chief Cathy L. Lanier Announce Historic Low for 2012 Homicides

by Prince Of Petworth — January 3, 2013 at 2:45 pm 34 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user KJinDC

From a press release:

Mayor Vincent. C. Gray and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced today that the District’s official number of homicides for 2012 represents the lowest number on record since 1961, with 88 murders for the calendar year.

The District’s homicide total dropped well below 100 – representing a benchmark not reached in half a century and a longtime goal of city leaders. The 2012 total highlights a significant four-year drop in homicides.

“This represents a tremendous milestone for public safety in the District. I want to commend Chief Lanier and Deputy Mayor for Public Safety and Justice Paul Quander along with all of the members of the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) for their efforts to reduce homicides,” said Mayor Gray. “However, one murder is always going to be one too many. It does not matter where it occurs in the city; we must continue to work together as a city to reduce violence and crime in all four quadrants.”

No longer the nation’s “murder capital,” D.C.’s number of homicides is dropping at a faster pace than the national average. The figure stands in stark contrast to the number of homicides during the crack-cocaine epidemic of the late 1980s and early 1990s, when the District’s annual murder total topped 400 for several years in a row.

In 2012, MPD’s case-closure rate for homicides was 82 percent, which is well above the national average.

Continues after the jump.

“I have always felt that having fewer than 100 homicides District-wide was an achievable goal,” said Chief Lanier. “We had to get to a tipping point where it was clearly understood — as both a city and a police department — that we could reduce the number of homicides. We are now at that point, and our mentality has sent a clear message to the criminal population.”

“By focusing on gangs, guns and investing in technology in recent years we have made a real impact on violent crime,” Chief Lanier said. “We have also developed trusting relationships with our communities, and we are getting more information from the community than I have experienced in 23 years.”

The community has embraced the Department’s 50-411 text tip line. In 2012, MPD received 2,036 text tips, nearly six times the number of tips received since the year the system was launched in 2008. And reward payouts for violent crimes continue to increase.

MPD continues to connect with the community in a variety of ways. Approximately 16,000 residents are members of the listservs in all seven police districts. The department also uses Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts to publicize and solve crimes.

As overall homicides in the District declined, the city also saw notable reductions in homicides involving youth. Juvenile victims of homicides declined 85 percent, and juvenile homicide offenders declined 63 percent.

MPD’s focus on robberies also had a positive impact. Similarly to other cities around the country, the District began the first couple months of 2012 with a nearly 50 percent increase in robberies compared to the same period in 2011. The department worked diligently to address this challenge through a number of initiatives.

Mayor Gray commended Chief Lanier and MPD for getting offenders off the street, shutting down illegal fencing operations and working with the cell-phone industry to reform their policies to stop allowing the reactivation of stolen phones.

“As a result, we substantially reduced the number of robberies in the last several months, so that we ended 2012 even compared to the previous year,” Chief Lanier said.

“Public safety in the District has clearly been a top priority for my administration, and this will continue in 2013 as we work with MPD to continue making this city a safe place for those who live, work and visit here,” Mayor Gray said.

  • CA

    This is great news. I do feel there is still much to be done in the area of robberies though. It’s nice to see the uptick was managed this year on the backend, but average to last year is unacceptable.

  • Anonymous

    Good job.

  • Anonymous

    Gentrification is destroying this city’s culture…

    • Anonymous


    • Matt

      if “destroying culture” == public safety, then KEEP DESTROYING.

      • Anonymous

        sounds like they are saying that the only culture before gentrification is bad.

    • Anonymous

      “Gentrification is destroying this city’s culture…”

      I don’t even know what this means. Please explain.

      • Anonymous

        It means do not feed the trolls. 🙂

    • … and if by culture you mean widespread violence, murder, urban decay, and widespread social ignorance of much of the city’s population during the 1980s and 90s, than yes, I suppose gentrification may be doing just that.

      • Anonymous

        it’s sad when people only have one narrative of DC before they got here.

        despite the reality of crime, DC still had wonderful culture before the city started getting safer.

  • Anonymous

    Great job, Chief Lanier and MPD!

    • anon

      I think we can all agree that allowing defensive gun use in the home had nothing to do with it. After all, post Heller, The Brady Campaign promised us ‘blood in the streets’ and we got… errrrr… ummmmm…

  • zandunga

    I remember going to public high school in DC when it was Murder Capital. The media loved to tell us the climbing number of murders every day.

  • ET

    I know the rate has been going down but less that 100? Never thought DC would get that low. Chicago had something like 532, Detroit had 411, and New Orleans has 193 (sadly, their 1st of 2013 happened less than 10 hours into the new year).

    Obviously crime encompass more than just murder but sill less than 100 is amazing.

    • Grand Funk

      It is a great trend but still need to look at per capita #’s Of course we will still beat Detroit and NOLA but others I’m not so sure. I would place a bet that robberies have gone up though

      • JS

        I just did some back of the envelope math and DC’s 2012 murder rate was ~13.9 per 100,000 people. Chicago’s was 19.7 per 100,000.

        • Chicago is becoming the new Detroit – a continuing increase in all types of crimes. Why anyone would go there on purpose – baffles me. There is nothing attractive about that city.

          • Anony

            Wasonh- Obviously, you are not familiar with Chicago. Though still unacceptable, the violent crime is concentrated mostly in the south and west of the city. It is one of the best cities in the country with really cool architecture. I’d live there in a heartbeat if it wasn’t for the weather.

  • Anonymous

    That’s awesome. PG county homicides are down too. The area is getting better.

  • Anonymous

    this is truly good news. may we have even fewer murders this year.

  • Grand Funk

    Compare that number to cities with similar populations (i.e. Boston, Nashville, Denver, Seattle, El Paso) and how did we do?

    • Anonymous

      Or we can compare present DC to the DC of recent years for an accurate comparison of DC crime.

      • Anonymous

        hmmmm. actually, both help. DC still has a long way to go.

  • Anonymous

    The soft bigotry of low expectations.

    DC still has more murders than many entire *countries* with more than 10 times the population.

    We may be getting better, but we’re still an extremely violent outlier by First World standards.

    • ???? any facts to support this assertion?

      • Anonymous

        Seriously? OK then:


        Several countries (e.g. Switzerland, Austria) have more than 10 times DC’s population (i.e. more than 6.17 million inhabitants), and yet had fewer annual homicides in the entire country.

        At 14 homicides per 100,000, DC’s homicide rate is now the same as Botswana’s and Zimbabwe’s. For comparison, the UK’s homicide rate is down around 1 per 100,000, Germany is 0.8, and Japan is 0.4.

        The US national average homicide rate is 4 per 100,000 — same as Yemen’s.

        American’s don’t quite understand that by most quality-of-life measures, we have let ourselves become the Mississippi of the First World.

        • washingtonian

          None of those countries you listed have a gun culture anywhere near our own. Check out the Russian homicide rate, they’re closer to the machismo in our culture than fricking Switzerland.

          side note: the First World/Second World/Third World demarcation is senseless after the end of the Cold War. I have no idea why people keep using these terms.

          • Anonymous

            If we have to reach all the way down to lawless Russia before we find a country that makes us look good, then that rather illustrates my point.

            We can make excuses, we can blame “culture”, but the fact remains that on homicide rates and so many other quality-of-life metrics (longevity, infant mortality, childhood poverty rates, incarceration rates), the USA ranks near the bottom of the … western industrialized democracies.

    • Anonymous

      True. True. True. But we should still celebrate the direction we are going, no?

  • Eli

    What this doesn’t show is that Chief Lanier has been fiddling with the numbers, calling deaths that appear to be clear homicides something else in order to make the homicide rate lower. Does she get some kind of bonus for having the numbers this low? I’m not saying that homicides have not decreased at all, I’m just saying that it’s not as great as she wants us to believe.

  • Anonymous

    An interesting take on the national drop in murders.

  • Closure_Rate

    I didn’t read the full article, but did it discuss the closure rate on homicide? Jow that is something to bragg about if their closure rates are more than unsolved.

    • sbc

      closure rate is a funny stat, since the denominator is the number of homicides in a year and the numerator is the number of murders (no matter when they took place) solved in a year. So if there were 50 murders in a year and you solve 10 of them plus 40 from previous years, you get a closure rate of 100%.

  • CapHill

    Easy to have lower rates in every aspect, when you juke the stats. Yeah, I said it…..

    And I LOL’d at the “gentrification” comment. Well played.


Subscribe to our mailing list