Homicides down 23 percent in area
Homicides in the Washington area dropped 23 percent last year, according to a report released Wednesday by a regional governing body.
The decline helped drive an overall slide of 8 percent in reported serious crimes -- including homicides, rapes, robberies, assaults and certain property crimes, according to the analysis of 2008 and 2009 data by the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments.
The trend was found in each of the three regional jurisdictions -- the District and the Maryland and Virginia suburbs.
Northern Virginia showed the sharpest decline in homicides at 28 percent, followed by the District at 23 percent and the Maryland suburbs at 21 percent. In 2009, the Virginia region had 36 homicides, the District 143 and the Maryland region 107.
There were 143,568 serious crimes reported across the region in 2009, the report said, down from 156,025 in 2008. Just four of the 20 jurisdictions included in the study bucked the decline, led by Bowie with 12 percent more serious crime, Manassas Park with 8 percent more, Takoma Park with 3 percent and Manassas with 2 percent.
The report attributed the findings in part to the increased use of technologies such as GPS devices in police cruisers, automated license plate readers and the Law Enforcement Information Exchange, a data-sharing system launched in 2007 that allows departments to quickly retrieve mug shots and crime reports.
-- Mike McPhate
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