Nation’s Capital Devastated By Astronomical Crime Spike In 2023

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Arjun Singh Contributor
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The District of Columbia experienced a 39% increase in violent crime in 2023, according to data published by its Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).

The District has long experienced issues with crime and property theft, despite having the most police officers per capita of any jurisdiction in the country, due to the significant presence of federal law enforcement to protect the seat of the government of the United States. In 2023, overall crime increased by 26% over 2022, with 34,414 instances of violent and property crime reported to police, with property crime alone rising by 24%. (RELATED: ‘We Are … In A Warzone’: DC Councilman Calls On Biden To Deploy National Guard To City)

Across individual criminal offenses, the greatest increase was in arson offenses, which rose by 175% over 2022 and was followed by motor vehicle theft, including carjacking, which rose by 82% with 6,829 thefts reported. Among violent offenses, homicides increased by 35% to 274 killings in 2023 and violent robbery increased by 67%.

Several prominent individuals in the District have been the victims of its crime, such as Democratic Reps. Henry Cuellar of Texas, who was carjacked in October, and Angie Craig of Minnesota, who was assaulted in her apartment building in February. Additionally, an FBI agent driving an emergency vehicle was carjacked in December.

“We are short more than 500 cops and the responsible policing that used to address this has been prohibited by misguided legislation,” wrote the District of Columbia Police Union (DCPU) on X, formerly known as Twitter. The union refers to the Comprehensive Policing and Justice Reform Amendment Act, legislation enacted by the Council of the District of Columbia that imposes restrictions on police officers’ restraining of criminals, among others, which Congress voted to repeal earlier this year, though President Joe Biden vetoed the repeal legislation.

The Council has since sought to adopt tougher measures to combat crime, much of which is committed by minors under the age of 18, such as legislation to combat retail theft, streamline prosecutions for carjackings and enable police to conduct “stop-and-frisk” searches of persons. In September, the District instituted a curfew for persons under the age of 17 between the hours of 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. in several areas.

MPD is currently understaffed, with officials warning that attrition is severely damaging the force’s ability to respond to offenses. In February of 2023, Democratic Mayor Muriel Bowser said that the District was short 800 police officers, which could take over a decade to fill, according to WTOP News.

Bowser’s administration has supported anti-police social justice movements such as Black Lives Matter, which she memorialized by renaming a portion of 16th Street NW in front of The White House as “Black Lives Matter Plaza,” with a large street mural to that effect.

“[W]e’ve lost collective bargaining rights. We’ve lost our process rights and our due process in terms of being able to defend ourselves against frivolous accusations,” said DCPU president Gregg Pemberton at a police oversight hearing, WTOP reported. The District has since expanded hiring bonuses for new police recruits to $25,000.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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