MPD statistics indicate crime rates are lower this year than last year’s in the District of Columbia, but if the trends continue, the rates of homicide, sexual abuse, motor vehicle and other thefts are on course to exceed last year’s rate by the end of the year. The troubling fact is that crime has been steadily increasing while the resources to attack it are diminishing.
It is irrefutable that crime, particularly violent crime, is nowhere near the rates seen in the 1980s and ’90s when the District became infamously known as the “Murder Capital of the Nation.” But when crime hits your street, or your front door, or inside your home, lower statistics mean nothing. We agree with Ward 8 D.C. Council member Trayon White who spoke at a press conference last week where he declared a Crime State of Emergency in the District, recognizing that “when we say crime is down, it doesn’t present us with an opportunity to fix it.”
In the past month in Ward 8, four homicides, 23 robberies with a gun, 44 assaults with a gun or dangerous weapon, 22 burglaries and 150 thefts occurred. Several violent crimes have occurred nearby schools where small children leaving at the end of the day were faced with the heart-wrenching question, “Was my mother or father, brother or sister a victim today?”
Undoubtedly, “this is not normal,” declared Ward 5 Council member Kenyan McDuffie. “This is no way for a child to live, let alone contemplate at such an early age.”
Government has its role. Adequate funding for police hiring, training and equipment needs is a necessity, regardless of the angst in the community over police abuse and misconduct. When a crime takes place, “Who’re you gonna call?” MPD. Response times must improve but community cooperation has to improve, as well.
White is right when he shared the need that government has to also depend on community partners. Dozens of community-based anti-gang, anti-violence and at-risk youth prevention organizations partnered with the District to reduce crime rates in past years and many of those organizations are still working in the trenches without government support to keep the incidences of crime low today. But with more, they can do more.
Sadly, many of the crimes are taking place outside of churches that, for the most part, are closed except on Sunday when most of their parishioners drive into the District and leave when service is over. Yet, they too have a role to play.
White is further correct when he says we need “courage” in our community. “We need to get these young guys [and girls] of the block, intervene in their lives and get them engaged in productive meaningful activities — make them a part of the solution,” he declared.
We need to face this genocide or declare war and reclaim our communities.