The Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) announced a reduction in homicides that was a 46 year low. For the second year in a row, the city recorded the fewest number of homicides since the 1960s. For the year 2010, the District finished the year with 131 homicides, a 9 percent decrease from last year. MPD also finished the year with a homicide closure rate of 79 percent, which is well above the national average and an increase over the year before.
“I am thankful for the dedication and hard work of the men and women of the Metropolitan Police Department, and the commitment from our partners in the community and other government agencies, that are helping us to make the city safer,” said Cathy L. Lanier, Chief of Police. “I especially want to commend the members of the Homicide Branch for their efforts and the intelligence and patrol units for their increased work.”
Many initiatives have contributed to the reduction in homicides and other crimes. MPD continues to reduce violent gun crime by focusing on violent offenders, taking illegal guns off the street, and launching innovative programs such as the Gun Offender Registry and the Firearm Tip Reward Program. In 2010, robberies committed with guns decreased 20 percent and assaults committed with guns were down 10 percent. Since 2007, the Department has taken 10,000 illegal guns off the streets.
The Department has worked to build stronger relationships with community members, with both a physical and virtual presence. The Department has adopted an aggressive deployment of officers on footbeats, bicycles, and Segways. In four years, MPD has gone from just a handful of officers assigned to regular foot patrol, to more than 300 deployed on foot patrol on all three shifts in neighborhoods across the city. Forty Segways are assigned to the police districts, and an additional 20 Segways are used to patrol around schools. In addition, almost 100 officers patrol on mountain bikes every day.
MPD has reinvigorated community email groups to enhance communication with city residents, and to provide a 24-hour a day virtual police presence. Police districts post crime stats and prevention tips daily. Community members communicate with police leaders in the districts and each other about important information to keep their neighborhoods safe. Questions or concerns posted to these are usually answered immediately, often by top command members. The police email group community has grown by 38 percent over the past two years.
Although it is difficult to quantify stronger relations, there is strong evidence to show that community members are not only communicating with the police – they are sharing vital information to solve crimes and make our neighborhoods safer. The Department’s phone tip line and anonymous text message have seen significant growth in usage. In two years, the number of tips received has increased. And many of these tips are valuable: monetary rewards for tips leading to an arrest and indictment have more than doubled.
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The Metropolitan Police Department uses numerous strategies to accomplish its goals and the work is often dangerous. In December, nine people were indicted on federal charges of conspiring to sell large quantities of crystal methamphetamine in the Washington area. The defendants allegedly have ties to “La Familia,” a Mexican drug cartel. The street value of the seized drugs included more than $3.5 million worth of methamphetamine, $118,000 of cocaine, and $49,500 of marijuana.
“I applaud the officers from the Narcotics and Special Investigations Division for their selfless and heroic actions in preventing a drug market from gaining a foot hold here,” said Chief Lanier. “We appreciate the assistance of our Federal partners in this case.”
The investigation was conducted by the Metropolitan Police Department and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) Office of Homeland Security Investigations. The case is being prosecuted by the United States Attorney’s Office.
In addition to a consecutive year of low homicide numbers, the city also experienced a decline in traffic fatalities for the second year in a row. In 2009, the number of traffic fatalities was 33 – the lowest in 25 years. In 2010, there were 25 traffic related deaths.
“We are pleased with the positive results and I am excited about the opportunity to continue to serve the people of this great city,” said Chief Lanier.