- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Two weeks into the new year, the District has had fewer homicides compared to the same period last year, but overall violent crime is higher, according to Metropolitan Police Department statistics.

Three homicides have been committed this year, compared to five during the same period in 2015 — which saw a 54 percent increase in the murder rate. But violent crime is up by 34 percent over last year at this time. The crime figures paint a muddled picture of the current state of public safety in the nation’s capital.

With regard to violent crime, D.C. police statistics show that 16 incidents of sex abuse have been reported this year, compared to four at this time last year. Robberies have jumped from 94 at this time last year to 131 this year. And assaults with a dangerous weapon have risen from 60 at this time in 2015 to 68 so far this year.

Total property crime, which includes burglaries, thievery and motor vehicle thefts, also has risen slightly over last year. Burglaries and car thefts are down significantly, but other types of theft have increased by 17 percent — from 372 last year to 436 this year, according to police statistics.

The Metropolitan Police Department had no comment about the crime figures, but a police source said the sample size of two weeks is too small to make accurate assumptions about the crime rate for this year.

The mayor’s office and the office of the city’s attorney general did not return calls seeking comment.

Last year, police attributed the increase in homicides to several factors, including repeat offenders and more guns on the streets.

To try to quell the surge, the police department and the D.C. Department of Human Services last year started sharing information to more quickly help families affected by homicides. City officials identified five police service areas that historically have been hit hardest by violence and offered housing, employment and behavioral health services to those affected by violent crime.

North of the District, Baltimore has seen a similar decrease in its homicide statistics compared to last year. Maryland’s largest city has recorded five homicides this year, but it had eight at this time last year, when its murder rate rose by 63 percent. Baltimore ended the year with 338 murders — a homicide figure not seen in the city since the 1990s.

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