Rising crime in Washington raises fears of a return to dark years The calm of Washington seems, once again, a distant memory. In fact, since the beginning of the year, the US federal capital has faced a sharp increase in the number of homicides: 166 between January and August 2023 compared to 131 in the same period of the previous year, which represents an increase of 27%. Enough to generate concern among the population and public security experts, he emphasizes the Washington Post.
Especially because in comparison, in “Nearly 70 police departments in major US cities, 48 reported a decrease in homicides this year“not Baltimore, Chicago, or New York.
According to Washington Police Chief Pamela A. Smith, this increase in crime is due to the “proliferation of illegal firearms.” However, Richard Rosenfeld, a criminologist at the University of Missouri, emphasizes in the newspaper’s columns that “This also happens in other cities, which are registering a drop in crime while the Federal Capital does not achieve it.” But then, “Why Washington”?
For Thomas Abt, director of a research group on violence reduction at the University of Maryland, the particularity of the American capital lies in “its unique status as a federal enclave ”which makes it difficult to implement effective anti-crime policies.
“You just have to walk down the street to get killed”
In the “murder capital” – a nickname inherited from the crack epidemic of the 1990s – “Almost two-thirds (of the murders) are committed in the poorest neighborhoods”. But even areas that were once safe, like U Street or Adams Morgan, are now affected.
“Before you didn’t have to worry about crime unless you were associated with drug trafficking. Nowadays it is enough to walk down the street or be in a car to get killed.” laments Ronald Moten, former crack dealer, interrogated by the Washington Post in a second report. “In some ways, it’s worse” adds the man, now a worker in an association that helps young people escape trafficking.
Those who have not yet moved live with the constant feeling that “their safety and lives are potentially threatened ”in the words of Nora Fanfalone, a 28-year-old resident. “In the first six days of September alone, eight people were shot to death, including four teenagers” the newspaper emphasizes.