Public Safety: MPD Reports Crime Down in Most Categories Over Last 2 Years


When horrific crimes are reported in daily local news, residents tend to feel less safe, regardless of favorable overall crime trends. Hence the skepticism some in the District have regarding the Metropolitan Police Department’s recent reporting that crime is down in ten-of-twelve major categories over the last two years.

Though “Homicides” rose from 354 per year to 425 per year over the past two years and “Motor Vehicle Thefts” rose from 5,543 per year to 7,336 per year, according to the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD), every other crime trend in the nation’s capital improved. Still, such a marked increase in the District’s homicide and car theft rate is reason to worry.

“In summary,” the website says, “All crimes went down by 5,857 citywide during the past 2 years when compared to the previous 2 years.” 

What crimes have gone down? On the MPD’s statistics portal Crimecards.dc.gov – which allows users to visualize crime statistics on interactive maps and charts – year-end crime statistics for 2021-2022 show that “Total Crime” is down from 61,561 incidents to 55,704; “Sex Abuse” is down from 376 to 334; “Assault with a Dangerous Weapon” is down from 3,215 to 3,028; ‘Robbery” is down from 4,248 to 4,103; “All Property Crime” is down from 53,368 to 47,814; “Burglary” is down from 2,676 to 2,223; “Theft from Auto” is down from 18,82116,440; “Theft (Other)” is down from 26,307 to 21,806; and “Arson” is down from 21 to 9 incidents.

Of course, the “Crimecards.dc” website – created by MPD and the city’s Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) – is devoted simply to presenting District crime data statistics in a user-friendly fashion without offering deeper analytics to explain why shifts in trends have taken place. For example, the effects of the pandemic lockdown in its earlier versus later stages is difficult to parse and interpret. Whether students are learning remotely or in school is also not factored in. So, it’s perhaps no surprise such analyses are not presented. 

Residents who’d like to see how crime data are presented in their own neighborhoods might still find the “Crimecards.dc” website most helpful. 

“It’s a mobile, modern and interactive version of the D.C. Crime Map,” Mayor Bowser announced when “Crimecards.dc.gov” was launched in 2018. The site is designed to allow residents and researchers to search the map by location and type of crime and use it to learn about the neighborhood.

When you navigate to the site, it’s easy to see all the varied statistical presentations in mobile-friendly “card” formats. Crime data presented is broken down into “type, weapon, date and location.” By default the data is presented for all crimes “over the past two years citywide,” but timeframes can be adjusted in searches. 

The front-page of the site provides crime “totals,” “Changes over Time,” “Offenses by Month,” a donut chart of all offenses by year, a bar chart of all offenses by year, a Crime Map (displayed with a “heat” or shading pattern, allows users to zoom in to see statistics from particular neighborhoods), a navigation tool to contact city officials by district, and an area to answer frequently-asked questions. Each card also has basic explanatory text with options for screen presentation.

On the first day of 2023, MPD Chief Robert Contee released a “Message from the Chief” lauding his department’s crime-fighting efforts last year while acknowledging the District continues to be plagued by an “epidemic” of gun violence. 

“Senseless violence in our city,” took 203 lives last year, Chief Contee began, and “that’s 203 too many, period.”

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