Violent and property crimes on the rise in D.C.

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Local,DC,Crime,Ben Giles

Violent crime and property crime are on the rise for the second consecutive year in the District despite the city's historic dip in homicides, a growing concern for city leaders who see across-the-board crime reductions in neighboring Prince George's County.

Both Washington and Prince George's are on pace to finish the year with fewer than 100 homicides for the first time in decades. It'd be the first time in the District that murder dipped below triple digits since 1963.

But unlike Prince George's, where officials recently announced a 7.1 percent reduction in overall crime to date in 2012, crime statistics provided by the Metropolitan Police Department as of Dec. 17 show a 3 percent rise in violent crimes, up from 6,431 in 2011 to 6,630 in 2012, and a 4 percent spike in property crimes, up from 26,456 in 2011 to 27,489 to date in 2012.

Between 2010 and 2011, violent crimes also rose 1 percent -- there were 6,920 crimes in 2010 and 7,009 in 2011 -- while property crimes rose 6 percent, from 24,501 in 2010 to 25,852 in 2011, according to the department's 2011 annual report.

"I'm extremely concerned about that," said Ward 6 Councilman Tommy Wells, who will chair the Committee on Public Safety and the Judiciary in 2013. "I'm going to want to know what the strategy is of how our resources will be used to reduce crime."

Police Chief Cathy Lanier said the city experienced a nearly 50 percent spike in robberies in the first few months of 2012 compared with last year, a trend she said was mirrored in other major cities. The spike has settled as the year went on, and officers cracked down on thieves targeting cellphones, according to Lanier.

Crime is still up overall, while in Prince George's, County Executive Rushern Baker's holistic approach to reducing crime has involved nearly every county department and agency at his disposal. Wells said he wants to talk to Lanier and Mayor Vincent Gray in 2013 about how the police force can coordinate with other city agencies that can have an impact on reducing crime in the District.

District officials have tried an all-hands-on-deck approach before, but those efforts have always floundered in the past due to a lack of political willpower, according to Kris Baumann, president of the District's Fraternal Order of Police lodge.

"The minute that people start looking away from it or the political pressure dissipates, that's when the program and the results falter and it all falls apart," Baumann said.

bgiles@washingtonexaminer.com

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