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Violent crime in District fell in 2009, FBI says

This post had been updated from the original.

The FBI released preliminary figures Monday showing that violent crime is down across the nation and in the District, which saw a 7.2 percent overall decline.

In the nation's capital, violent crime -- which includes murder, forcible rape, robbery, and aggravated assault -- fell from 8.135 to 7,586, The number of homicides fell from186 to 143, according to the data from the FBI's Preliminary Uniform Crime Report. Final numbers will be released in the fall.

D.C. police officials were aware of the downward trend during last year. In July 2009, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier told the Post that through technology, police were analyzing crime trends nearly instantly, giving them better ability to attack crime before it happened.

We have a request into the Chief's spokeswoman, Gwendolyn Crump, for a comment on Monday's FBI report and will let you know the response.

We got a response at about 5:15 p.m. Here it is:

Assistant Chief Pete Newsham said that the department is pleased by the FBI numbers, but cautioned that the District and the federal government classify some crimes differently. Therefore, the department closely tracks local crime trends and tailors policing efforts based on local statistics.

For example, Newsham said, for 2009, District police recorded a 4 percent drop in violent crime, with homicides down by 23 percent. “Obviously that’s the huge number for us,” Newsham said. Assaults with a deadly weapon fell by 9 percent, Newsham said.

Newsham reiterated that the chief’s focus on technology has allowed officers to police “smarter and more efficiently.” But in addition, the department has seen more cooperation with residents stepping forward as a witnesses or to report crimes. It is common for residents on neighborhood e-mail lists to send in tips about troubled spots and police respond by flooding the area with officers.

”We’ve developed better relations with the community and people are more likely than in the past to come forward. All of those things have really helped us reduce violent crimes.”

Still, Newsham said, the FBI numbers can make for a helpful comparison. “It shows us how we stand with regard to other departments in the country.”

--Theola Labbé-DeBose

By Theola Labbé-DeBose  |  May 24, 2010; 5:15 PM ET
Categories:  Crime Statistics , The District , Theola Labbé-DeBose  
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