D.C. Crime Down in 2017, Problems Remain in Seventh District

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Even though overall crime is on the downswing in the Seventh District, which includes Ward 8, a community leader from Anacostia says trends mean nothing when you have to hold the hand of someone who just lost a loved one to violence.

“I’m happy the trends look good, but we still have so much work to do,” Troy Donté Prestwood, who chairs the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, told the AFRO.

Data from the Metropolitan Police Department shows violent crimes in the Seventh District are down nearly 25 percent from last year.

In 2017, as of Dec. 11, there were 811 total violent crimes, with assault with a dangerous weapon excluding a gun accounting for the most of them with 210 reported. Violent crimes were down in every category this year: homicide, sex abuse, robberies with and without guns and assault with a dangerous weapon including and excluding guns. There were 38 homicides as of Dec. 11.

Conversely, there were 1,078 violent crimes during the same period last year, with 293 of them falling into the assault with a dangerous weapon excluding a gun category — the most reported type of violent crimes reported then. There were 43 homicides that year.

This year has also seen a decrease in several property crimes including arson, auto theft and theft from autos — the total number of property crimes stood at 2,211, down from 2,363 reported last year, according to police data.

But the number of burglaries and thefts went up slightly, going from 270 and 1,047 respectively in 2016, to 277 and 1,048 this year.

All told, total crime was down roughly 12 percent from 2016, going from 3,441 crimes to 3,022 crimes.

The Metropolitan Police Department declined to say what caused the overall crime numbers to fall in the Seventh District.

But to keep crime falling downward in 2018, the police department will continue to foster and promote ties and communication with the community, keep partnering with citizens through programs like the Private Security Camera Incentive Program and keep pushing to get illegal guns off the streets, said Rachel Reid, a spokeswoman for the Metropolitan Police Department.

“As always, we urge anyone who has information about illegal firearms in their neighborhood to contact us, and we will take action to make that neighborhood safer,” Reid told the AFRO via email.

Prestwood, the chair of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission, said he wants to see more police officers walking the beat in the neighborhood to meet residents and build the kinds of partnerships and connections that could give them intelligence to help solve and prevent crimes.

It’s not all on the police, though, Prestwood said.

“Trends can be encouraging but at the end of the day there are people on the other end of those numbers and it’s those people who are most impacted by violent crime and we must do more for them,” Prestwood said. “We must … be more mindful of how we serve and protect our communities and that’s including everybody from police to elected leadership, even to residents.”