The Crime Policy Institute will issue timely briefs to highlight criminal and juvenile justice policy issues in the District. These short policy snapshots will identify pressing, relevant crime and safety topics in the District; place those matters in historical and policy context; distinguish trends; and discuss implications. The goal of these briefs is to provide real-time evidence to inform policy discussions that are engaging public safety stakeholders and District residents.
Small Number of Blocks Account for Lots of Crime in D.C.
This brief looks at crime at the Census block level. Most crime is concentrated in a relatively small number of blocks in the District—in any given year, more than one-quarter of the crimes occur in just five percent of the blocks. The largest clusters of high crime blocks are found in the center of the city and on the eastern edge of the city, in the Third, Sixth, and Seventh Police Districts.
VIOLENT CRIME: Challenging the Conventional Wisdom (Commentary - MetroTrends.org)
DCPI researcher Meagan Cahill provides a look at the changing violent crime rates of metropolitan areas in the United States since 2000.
Over the last decade, violent crime rates (homicide, rape, aggravated assault, and robbery) have been falling both nationally and in nearly two-thirds of the 100 largest metropolitan areas. Yet a recent Gallup poll found that more Americans than ever believe the crime problem is worsening. Lots of Americans also think that population growth brings higher crime and that the nation’s biggest metros face worsening violent crime problems. But the facts don’t support these conclusions either.
Motor Vehicle Theft in the District of Columbia Patterns and Trends, 2000-2009
Over the past 50 years, nationwide rates of motor vehicle thefts rose slowly and steadily to a peak in 1990 and then declined to a low in 2009. Rates in Washington, DC were higher and more volatile, averaging three to four times the national rate for two decades. Recently, however, rates in DC dropped to their lowest level in 25 years. While the Sixth Police District (6D) had the highest rates and counts of motor vehicle theft over the study period, the Seventh Police District (7D) had the largest percentage increase. Hot spots in 6D were located along major thoroughfares.
Burglary in the District of Columbia Patterns and Trends, 2000-2009
This brief describes the steady decline in burglary in Washington, DC, to levels below the national average. Washington, DC’s burglary rates were more volatile than the nationwide pattern, declining in the mid-1990s and stabilizing in the mid-2000s. Analyses by police district found that while most mirrored the citywide pattern of a decline across the period, burglaries in 7D increased significantly. Hot spots maps reveal the dissipation of one anomalous hot spot in the Second Police District as well as the increasing burglary rates in the Seventh Police District, highlighting the need for micro-level responses to local crime trends.
Sex Abuse in the District of Columbia, 2000 - 2009
While the use official statistics to understand sexual offenses presents a number of challenges, an analysis of data from the last decade (2000—2009) in Washington, DC reveals some interesting patterns. A long-term downward trend in reports of forcible rape since 1960 stabilized in recent years. More recently (2000—2009), the number of sex abuse reports was volatile with no clear pattern of increase or decline. Police districts 6D and 7D accounted for a disproportionate share of the city’s sex abuse reports, a pattern that may have begun to change at the very end of the series, at least in 7D.
Aggravated Assault in the District of Columbia, 2000 - 2009
Over the past decade, aggravated assaults in the District of Columbia have steadily declined to levels last reached in the late 1960s. That decline mirrors that of serious violent crime—such as homicide—with a small peak in the early 1970s and a larger peak in the early 1990s. The analysis found that the Seventh Police District (7D) had the most assaults of all districts but also one of the largest declines between 2000 and 2009. In 7D, hot spots of crime were located in both commercial and residential areas, but dissipated over the course of the decade studied.
Robbery in the District of Columbia, 2000 - 2009
This brief examines robbery in the District of Columbia over the period 2000-2009, both citywide and by police district. Over the 2000-2009 period, robbery levels were historically low and remained relatively stable throughout the period. A comparison of robbery rates and counts revealed that the two different types of measures followed similar trends over the study period. Following seasonal crime trends, robberies rose in the summer months and dropped in the winter months. Geographic patterns of robbery across the study period remained stable over time with a persistent hotspot in the Third Police District.
Homicides in the District of Columbia by Police District, 2001 - 2009