How the nation’s capital became an outlier on violent crime

“In 2020, during the pandemic and after the murder of George Floyd, homicide and violent crime across the US soared. The number of murders that year represented the largest increase since the FBI began formally tracking national statistics in 1960.
But 2023 was different: Across the spectrum, violent crime and homicide dropped significantly from their 2020 peak, and murders fell more than 12 percent in cities, according to the FBI’s latest crime report. Last year saw “one of the lowest rates of violent crime in the United States in more than 50 years,” Jeff Asher, a crime data analyst, writes.

There were exceptions: In Memphis, Tennessee, murders skyrocketed in the 12 months following the killing of Tyre Nichols by city police, and in Shreveport, Louisiana, they jumped by more than 37 percent. But no other city has experienced a crime surge — or the accompanying national scrutiny about its meaning — like the nation’s capital has.

DC saw its deadliest year in more than two decades, with 274 people killed and a homicide rate that makes it among the deadliest cities in the country. Violent crime also spiked nearly 40 percent in the nation’s capital, driven largely by a surge of armed robberies and carjackings, many of them perpetrated by kids. The city reported more than 950 carjackings in 2023, and shocking news coverage about teen carjacking rings rattled residents and people who worked there.”

“DC’s lack of statehood partly explains why its criminal-legal system is more complicated. Most cities have local government and law enforcement agencies that operate in conjunction with state and federal law enforcement, but the District of Columbia, because of its status as a federal district, has a much more complex, overlapping system of agencies and offices.”

“Amid rising crime last year, city leaders passed emergency legislation last summer handing more power to police and prosecutors to go after people suspected of committing violent crimes; the council is working on a larger public safety bill that would expand upon last year’s legislation. In describing the turn from police reform efforts toward expanding powers for law enforcement, Mayor Muriel Bowser told the Washington Post late in 2023 that “the pendulum is swinging back to the middle.”

Other major cities that enacted police reforms post-2020 didn’t see rising violence like DC did in 2023, making it less likely that any recent legislative changes are directly responsible for the violent crime surge. Research shows that when it comes to preventing crime, certainty of getting caught is a greater deterrent than severity of punishment — and the city has serious challenges catching those who commit certain violent crimes.”

“DC faced its largest police shortage in roughly 50 years in 2023, after being unable to meet its recruitment targets or keep pace with attrition. While the city isn’t alone in struggling with staffing shortages, police in the city are also arresting far fewer people than they used to.”

“the arrests in DC declined the most in areas where violent crime surged. In another analysis of police staffing in early 2023, DC Crime Facts also found that police weren’t deploying heavily in areas where crime was rising the fastest, raising questions about whether there were enough police focused on the “hot spots,” areas where crime is more likely to happen. Decades of research shows that targeting hot spots is an effective strategy for significantly reducing crime.”

Republicans Want to Mandate a Single Style of Architecture in Washington

“GSA is the target of a new Republican-sponsored bill that would declare “classical architecture” to be the “default” style for new federal buildings in Washington, and classical and traditional architecture to be the “preferred” style for most government buildings across the country.”