The grim milestone has not come this early since 1997.
The number of homicides in Washington, D.C., has passed 200 before October for the first time in 25 years amid surging violence in the city. This is also the first time in nearly 20 years that the city has seen more than 200 homicides for three consecutive years. Acting D.C. police chief Pamela A. Smith said there is uncertainty around the total number of killings so far this year, but the total number could be as high as 209.
Nearly every ward in D.C. has experienced at least one killing, and The Washington Post reports tragically that “almost as many children and teenagers have been slain so far this year as in all of 2022.”
Some areas are harder hit than others. “Southeast Ward 8 and Ward 7 is out of control and the mayor should be ashamed of herself,” said Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Paul Trantham. “She shouldn’t be able to sleep at night with the stuff going on in our city.”
“We’re in a state of emergency,” said D.C. Councilmember Trayon White Sr, who represents Ward 8. “We’ve got to take this pandemic of violence in D.C. seriously. Until we get there, more blood will be spilled on the streets.” Earlier this year, White called on Mayor Muriel Bowser to protect the city with armed military personnel if necessary because there simply are not enough police officers.
The D.C. Police Union released a statement explaining some of the reasons for the shortage. “Since the passage of so-called ‘emergency police reform’ legislation in June of 2020, over 1,300 police officers have separated from MPD,” it read. “Most of the members who have left cited the Council’s treatment of law enforcement and political rhetoric, which not only makes policing more difficult and therefore less effective, but it also endangers police officers and their families. MPD staffing is at one of the lowest levels in decades.”
Our nation’s capitol is facing a crisis as all types of crime are surging. Residents are crying out for help and simply cannot be ignored by civic and community leaders. By rethinking crime and justice and supporting good policing, we can work together to make our communities safer. No city should have to experience what D.C. – and other cities around the country – are facing now.