Mayor Adrian M. Fenty and Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced today that the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) closed out the year 2009 with the lowest number of homicides since 1966. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" /?>
While the national trends are showing homicides reductions at 10 percent, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" /?>Washington, DC saw a 23 percent reduction; more than double the reduction of other major cities. In addition to the dramatic reduction in homicides, MPD’s homicide closure rate continues to increase also bucking national trends for a second year.
“Thanks to the MPD officers who put their lives on the line every day, the District of Columbia became a safer place to live in 2009,” said Mayor Fenty. “I commend Chief Lanier and her team on their hard work, and look forward to building on their gains in 2010.”
“I could not be more pleased with the hard work put forth by the members of this department,” said Chief Lanier. “I truly believe that our dramatic reductions are the result of intelligence-driven community policing and our focus on repeat violent offenders; which has been greatly enhanced through the use of technology,”
Chief Lanier said MPD cannot take all of the credit as the Department has seen tremendous cooperation and support from the community and they deserve recognition for their role in these accomplishments.
“We are sending the message to criminals that you will not get away with murder in this city,” Chief Lanier said. “If you murder someone in this city, you will be arrested, no matter how much time has passed.”
That is evident in MPD’s commitment to close cold cases. In March, an arrest was made in the 2002 murder of Chandra Levy whose remains were found in RockCreekPark. In November, an arrest was made in the murder of Sharon Moskowitz, who was strangled to death in her home in the 1900 block of Biltmore Street, NW, on January 21, 1997.
On December 23, 2009, an arrest was made in the 1993 murder case of LeCedric Gaino, who was killed on 11th Street, NW, in June of that year.
“The 1993 cold case was the oldest cold case closed this year and was closed because an individual made the decision to come forward despite the years that had passed,” Chief Lanier said. “An overwhelming number of homicide cases have been closed based on calls from members of the community and anonymous calls to the tip line.”
Even though MPD’s strategy is focused on two key principals; focusing on repeat violent offenders and building strong partnerships with the members of the community; there are dozens of tactics that MPD’s uses to accomplish its goals. “We certainly have to be as flexible as those who are committing the crime,” the Police Chief said.
The massive sting operation closed out in December is a good example. This operation led to 44 individuals being arrested and charged with possession and distribution of firearms and narcotics with a street value of more than $1.5 million, removing 123 dangerous weapons from DC streets. The six-month investigation was a joint effort with MPD, Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
“This was the most successful operation that we’ve done in Washington, DC since the 1970s,” Chief Lanier said.
“We have had quite a year. Not only is crime down, but our streets are safer as well, as we finished the year with the lowest number of traffic fatalities in 25 years,” Chief Lanier said. “I also had the opportunity to participate in the Presidential Inauguration in January; it was the largest turnout for an event in the history of the District of Columbia.”
Although MPD experienced some highly-publicized challenges in recent weeks, Chief Lanier is undeterred. “We have continued to remain focused on our goal of reducing crime and keeping our city safe. Violent crime is down 4 percent,” Chief Lanier said. “I have a dedicated team and I am looking forward to even more great things in the coming year.”