Skyrocketing Homicide Rate Leaves DC Ward Anxious And Scrambling For Answers

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Steve Birr Vice Reporter
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Murder is rattling Washington, D.C.’s, Ward 7 community, which is witnessing a tripling in the homicide rate compared to 2015, accounting for nearly half of all homicides in the District this year.

For many residents in Ward 7, daily criminal chaos and shootings are a regular part of life. There have been 21 homicides in the Ward so far this year, up from just seven in 2015. The District overall is off to a violent year, with a disturbing 47 homicides across the city. The city saw a staggering 53 percent spike in the murder rate in 2015, the highest rate in the District in eight years, reports The Washington Post.

The alarming spike in homicides in the District appears to be spilling into 2016, tracking closely with last year’s figures. Despite the rampant violence, the community is fearful to voice criticism of the crimes publicly.

“I don’t ask no questions,” an unidentified man told The Washington Post. “I don’t want to get shot.”

The violence is also drawing political campaigns, which criticize the lack of criminal reform in the plagued ward. Former Mayor Vincent Gray, who is running to defeat Yvette Alexander for the Council seat, blasted Alexander over Twitter for failing to see the seriousness of the issue. (RELATED: Spiraling Violence Leads DC Citizen To Sue DOJ Over ‘Revolving Door’ For Criminals)

D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier says this kind of political rhetoric makes it harder for police to do their jobs. Political infighting over the issue makes it less likely for people to come forward with tips and information.

“Politicians spinning about how it’s getting out of control shuts that down for me,” Lanier told The Washington Post.

Neighboring wards in the District are seeing similar criminal trends. Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Denise Krepp of the District’s Ward 6, is suing the Department of Justice over the city’s apparent “revolving door” for repeat criminal offenders.

Krepp is trying to get statistics via Freedom of Information Request Acts (FOIA) on how many arrests in the District resulted in officials following through with prosecutions. Residents in Krepp’s community feel the D.C. court system is a “revolving door of justice,” where repeat offenders are released back into neighborhoods, allowing violence to go unchecked.

“Sometimes, we just scratch our heads,” Lanier told The Washington Post. “We feel like there’s a revolving door for violent offenders. It’s very frustrating for us because we see the victim, and we see the impact on the victim.”

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