Monday, January 02, 2006

DC Area Murders Increase in 2005

The Washington Post reports:

The Washington region saw a rise in bloodshed in 2005, largely fueled by a spike in slayings in the D.C. suburbs, most dramatically in Prince George's County.

It was a reversal of the trend in the 1980s and 1990s, when the District gained notoriety as the country's "murder capital" during the crack wars of those decades. The District still has the largest share of area killings, with 194 slayings in 2005, close to 2004's total of 198.

Across the region, there were 466 homicides in 2005, compared with 420 in 2004 -- a rise of about 11 percent. About half of those slayings have been solved.

It was the first time the District has recorded fewer than 200 homicides in consecutive years since the mid-1980s. At the same time, the total in Prince George's climbed from 148 to 173, a grim record for the county.

The article also reviews murders in other DC-area cities and counties. Some blame the movement to the suburbs on DC-residents moving to the suburbs:

Outside experts and former police officials have said they believe that crime-prone populations in the District moved to the county in the last decade.

The migration began in the early 1990s as people tried to escape the city's high rate of violence. Others moved because the city knocked down several public housing buildings over the years, and the problems followed them, the experts and former police officials have said.

"When you have gentrification, there is another word that goes along with that: displacement," said Andrew Karmen, a criminologist and sociology professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. "People bring their problems with them where they settle."

The Post also reports that DC and Prince George's police "agreed to work together to target border crime" several months ago - but without explaining why this didn't happen decades ago.

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