- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 28, 2004

ASSOCIATED PRESS

As 2004 draws to a close, homicide rates are down in the D.C. area.

The District was pacing nearly 19 percent below last year’s levels. As of yesterday, 195 persons had lost their lives as a result of homicide, compared with 240 by the same date last year, according to the Metropolitan Police Department.

Most of the region’s other major jurisdictions also saw significant declines in homicide rates during 2004.

Montgomery County had a total of 17 homicides as of yesterday, compared with 23 for all of last year. Officials noted that all but two of this year’s cases have resulted in arrests or convictions.

Jurisdictions in the Northern Virginia suburbs also have had limited problems with homicides. In Fairfax County, there have been eight, one less than all of last year.

“We have cleared every case this year except two, and from last year we have two still left open,” Officer Bud Walker of the Fairfax County Police Department said.

Only one homicide has been reported this year in Arlington County, compared with three for all of last year. Alexandria has seen two homicides this year, compared to four last year.

But in Prince George’s County, homicides were pacing well above last year’s levels. As of yesterday, there were 148, compared with 128 through Dec. 28, 2003.

Police Chief Melvin C. High said he was “extremely concerned” about the numbers.

“We are in the process of designing a more comprehensive violence-prevention initiative, which will consist of prevention, intervention and enforcement strategies to include a firearms-reduction program to be implemented in early 2005,” Chief High told the Associated Press.

The chief said Prince George’s police have launched initiatives in which officers target trouble-prone locations. The department also is working with state and federal agencies to intensify drug-enforcement efforts.

Baltimore also has seen an increase in homicides, although the number in December is way down from a year ago.

There have been 10 killings this month, compared with 30 a year ago. If the number holds, it would be the city’s second-best December in nearly 40 years.

There have been 274 homicides in Baltimore this year — more than last year’s total. Spokesman Matt Jablow said there are no plans to hang a “Mission Accomplished” banner on police headquarters anytime soon.

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