SHAPIRO: Norton’s ‘safest city’ comment about D.C. not supported by facts

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Analysis/Opinion

In the wake of 12 people being murdered in Washington’s Navy Yard, D.C. Congressional Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton asserted that the District “is still the safest city in the United States.”

 Norton’s comment, made at the 6:30 p.m. press conference Monday aside D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray and Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier was the following:

“This is the neighborhood of the United States, very close to Congress and yet I just want to say to residents coming home today that the response of the police, the taking down of the shooters so quickly convinces me that again this is the safest city in the United States, not safe from attack, but safe.”

The current murder rate in Washington is in fact dramatically lower than what it was before. During the 1980’s and 1990’s, there were as many as 482 murders a year (1991 tally), and according to Forbes, Washington didn’t even make the Most Dangerous Cities in America list last year.

Forbes Staff Writer Daniel Fisher attributed the improvement mostly to gentrification and the ongoing District renaissance of refurbishing blighted neighborhoods.

But Forbes created their list based on the FBI’s Preliminary Annual Uniform Crime Report (PAUCR), which compiles crime data from individual cities across the United States.

The most recent PAUCR did not include statistics from the District of Columbia from 2012 because police were updating their database systems, and Chief Lanier reported at a press conference that 88 murders occurred last year (there were actually 92 killings, but four of them were considered self-defense).

Based on the District’s 2012 population of 632,323 and 88 murders, there are 13.91 killings per 100,000 people, which ranks the District as eighth in murders per capita in the United States according to www.homicidewatch.org.

According to City-Data.com, Washington’s violence crime rate is also more than twice the U.S. average.

Certainly, Washington is no longer the most dangerous city in the United States, and that is a significant achievement for the police and the city.

It is however a dramatic overstatement to say that it is the safest city.

In this case, the numbers speak for themselves.

 

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