Lanier pleased with DC's improvement in homicide cases
Not often is D.C. Police Cathy L. Lanier in a smiling mood when she faces the media to discuss crime in the nation’s capital.
On the first day of 2010, however, she seemed almost giddy.
“I remember my first year on the department,” Lanier said at a news conference Friday, formally announcing the remarkable decline in homicides in the District in 2009|.
"There were 479 murders in the city in 1991, my first year out of the academy and out on the street.” That was at the height of the crack epidemic, when feuding drug dealers turned some neighborhoods into war zones.
The 2009 total, including three slayings Thursday, was 143 -- a 23 percent drop from 2008’s body count (186) and the lowest annual homicide toll in Washington since 1966.
“I think I’m probably the only chief in the country who can say that the last time homicides in this city were this low, I wasn’t even born,” Lanier said, chuckling. “So that’s a really good feeling.”
Joined by Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D) and a bevy of police officers, the chief stood outside the building in Southwest Washington that houses the department’s homicide unit. “We’ve still got a lot more work to do,” she said, citing the three homicides that occurred on the final day of the year. “And we’re going to get out there and do it.”
Lanier said the decrease in homicides is rooted in closer police-community relations.
“We’ve been this big, anonymous police force for a very long time,” she said. “Now people actually know the name of an officer who works in the neighborhood, who walks the beat. We’ve created ways for people to reach out and communicate with us anonymously by phone, by e-mail, by listserv. It’s just a matter of taking the time to build those good relationships.”
With the public more willing to provide tips, the homicide unit’s 2009 closure rate was a strong 75 percent, Lanier said. Because many killings in the city are committed in retaliation for earlier slayings, she said, the closure rate affects the death toll: More arrests means fewer opportunities for payback on the streets, which leads to a decline in violence.
“We’ve said all along that the cornerstone of our strategy has been to focus on those repeat violent offenders,” the chief said. “You take an offender who’s involved in shootings and homicides off the street, not only do you stop them from committing a spree, but you also prevent retaliation, because typically there’s someone out there looking for that offender.”
Washington Post editors
January 1, 2010; 1:53 PM ET
Categories: Cathy L. Lanier , Crime Statistics , Paul Duggan , The District
Save & Share: Previous: Notorious Montgomery killer dies behind bars
Next: Hot oil treatment trial slated to start Monday
Posted by: JudyK1 | January 2, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse
Posted by: gpl2411 | January 2, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse
Posted by: Hk45 | January 4, 2010 7:31 AM | Report abuse
The comments to this entry are closed.