Most Crime Drops in First District

Posted March 9, 2011 at 5:40pm

There’s good news for Capitol Hill dwellers and Washingtonians living in the surrounding neighborhoods: Crime in the area decreased significantly last year. Even so, not every number was reassuring.

Fewer crimes overall were reported in the Metropolitan Police Department’s First District — from NoMa to Eastern Market and RFK Stadium to the Washington Monument — including significant decreases in violent and property crimes, according to statistics released by the department’s Homeland Security Bureau.

The number of violent crimes, which include homicide, robbery, assault with a deadly weapon and sexual assault, dropped by 12 percent last year, totaling fewer than 1,000 reported incidents. Property crimes, including burglaries, stolen vehicles and other kinds of theft, dropped 14 percent to about 4,300 incidents.

But although there was an overall decrease in crime, homicide and sexual assault in the area have not improved. The number of murders last year stayed exactly the same as the previous year, with nine — eight from shootings. And there were 20 sexual assaults, up from 16 in 2009.

The most noteworthy improvement was the number of cars stolen in the area, which fell by 172 in 2010 to 506, a drop of 25 percent. Theft from vehicles, including stolen GPS systems, stereos and valuables, dropped by 24 percent.

Reported robberies dropped by 16 percent, to 621, and perpetrators carried guns in fewer than 150 of those incidents, about 27 percent less than the previous year. Assaults with deadly weapons also fell, 6 percent, to 322.

Burglary decreased by 11 percent, totaling 503 attempted or successful burglar entries. Only four burglars were armed, significantly fewer than in 2009.

The bureau’s crime report is not extensive. Since the district encompasses large swathes of the city south of New York Avenue Northeast, north of Navy Yard, west of Stadium Armory and east of 17th Street Northwest, the jurisdiction includes numerous policing agencies such as the Capitol Police, Metro Transit Police, Secret Service and Park Police — all of which make arrests. 

However, Raymond Wickline, executive director of the Tactical Crime Analysis and Intelligence Branch of the Homeland Security Bureau, said 99 percent of crime reports in the First District pass through the MPD.

“These numbers don’t say exactly what happened, but they definitely show a trend,” Wickline said. “We saw a general decline in crime across the board.”

Even so, the First District fairs only slightly better than the most dangerous MPD districts in terms of crime. For example, the total number of property crimes committed in 2010 might have fallen in the First District, but the numbers remain the second-highest when compared with the other six districts.

Last year, the First District had the third-most crimes reported overall and the fourth-most violent crimes. Yet it had the second-lowest homicide total.

Over the past decade, citywide crime has decreased drastically, dropping from 44,500 reported offenses in 2001 to 34,700 in 2009, according the FBI’s Uniform Crime Report. But the report, which has slightly different numbers than MPD’s Homeland Security Bureau records due to differing definitions of crime, suggests that the First District isn’t necessarily part of that trend.

The total number of crimes reported varies from year to year in the district, reaching a low for the past decade in 2003 at fewer than 5,800 reported incidences before increasing again to almost 7,000 in 2008.

What’s more, Washington, D.C., is still considered one of the most dangerous cities in the country. Using FBI data, CQ Press compiled a list of the most dangerous cities in 2009, giving each a rank based on crime per capita and how it compared with the national average. The District ranked 22nd out of about 400 cities.