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Mayor Bowser Highlights 2017 Year End Crime Reductions and Lauds Turnaround at the Department of Forensic Sciences

Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Crime in Washington, DC is down 14 percent since 2014

(WASHINGTON, DC) –Mayor Bowser today highlighted the Administration’s multiagency approach to achieving a safer, stronger DC. Throughout 2017, crime continued to decrease in Washington, DC, with a 22 percent reduction in violent crime, a 9 percent reduction in property crime, and an 11 percent decrease in total crime. Since 2014, violent crime has decreased by 28 percent, property crime has decreased by 11 percent, and total crime has decreased by 14 percent.

“With our community-based approach to crime and violence prevention, we are making progress toward a safer, stronger DC, but we have more work to do,” said Mayor Bowser. “Identifying crime patterns, focusing on repeat violent offenders, removing illegal guns from our streets, and quickly testing key evidence are essential parts of combatting crime across the District.. I am proud of what our public safety agencies have accomplished, and in 2018, we will continue to build on that progress.”

In 2017, the Department of Forensic Sciences (DFS) implemented an ongoing series of improvements across the agency, with an emphasis on fingerprint and firearms forensics. Achievements and advances at DFS in 2017 include:

  • two clean audits by two different accrediting bodies;
  • a zero rape kit backlog;
  • 95 percent of homicide and priority cases in the latent fingerprint department were completed within 60 days;
  • expedited case processing through the creation of partnerships that streamline processes and give the agency the ability to scale up and down based on need;
  • new technologies and procedures to keep the District’s labs on the forefront of advances in the field; and
  • the implementation of an internship program that gives exposure to and trains the next generation of scientists.

“What a remarkable year we have had,” said DFS Director Dr. Jenifer Smith. “My staff have not only stepped up to help rebuild the reputation of this lab, they have consistently been sought out to train, provide guidance, and even coach other laboratories on some of the tools that they have been using. Having the support of city leadership to make the necessary changes has allowed us to increase our turnaround times which equates to swifter justice being served. Stronger science leads to safer streets.”

In addition, in 2017, the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) restructured key organizational divisions including Patrol Services and the Special Liaison branch, changes that have helped the department to maximize community partnerships. MPD also emphasized officer training in the use of technology to combat crime and ensure evidence is preserved for DFS crime scene technicians.

“The progress made in reducing crime across the District is satisfying and our community members deserve some of the credit,” said Chief of Police Peter Newsham. “The Metropolitan Police Department will continue to identify solutions that will assist us in decreasing crime even more moving forward.”

From launching the Robbery Intervention Task Force to creating the Hands on Hearts initiative to building and expanding the Private Security Camera System Incentive Program, the Bowser Administration has consistently taken a broad, multi-agency approach to creating a safer, strong DC. Recently, in October 2017, the Mayor launched the Safer Stronger DC Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement which will focus on community-oriented, public health approaches to violence prevention, recognizing that reducing crime is not accomplished solely through law enforcement.

The Safer Stronger DC Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement was created as part of Mayor Bowser’s fiscal year 2018 budget in order to consolidate the work being done by the Safer, Stronger DC Community Partnerships Office and the Community Stabilization Program. Additional investments funded by the Mayor’s FY2018 budget include a pilot program between MPD, the Department of Behavioral Health, and the Department of Human Services to jointly respond to calls for service involving individuals experiencing mental health or substance abuse crises. The goal of this pilot program is to provide individuals with the services they need rather than arresting them.