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Some SE Neighborhoods See Dramatic Spike In Crime

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Some speculate that the sluggish economy has driven the rise in crime in some Ward 7 neighborhoods, where unemployment is high.
Justin McGregor: http://www.flickr.com/photos/skippytpe/3366481352/
Some speculate that the sluggish economy has driven the rise in crime in some Ward 7 neighborhoods, where unemployment is high.

A dramatic increase in crime in one section of Southeast D.C. has residents there worried and police taking note.

As Barbara Morgan from the Dupont Park Civic Association turns the pages of a recent crime report, she shakes her head. "What we have are stolen autos, and things being taken out of autos," she says. 

During the past 12 months, crimes have been skyrocketing in the area compared to the same period the year before.  This is a neighborhood where cab drivers warn people about even getting out of the car, where property crimes have spiked by 47 percent and violent crimes have increased by 65 percent.

And it's not just Dupont Park, but also the surrounding Penn Branch and Fort Davis Park neighborhoods, according to data from the Metropolitan Police Department as of Aug. 1.

Morgan guesses one possible reason is the economy. "You have a lot of people around that are not working," she says. "Ward 7 and 8 have the highest unemployment in the city."

But it's not as though the area has never been safe. Crime was steadily decreasing in the area for about five years until it spiked sharply in February and March, says Commander Robert Contee, with the Metropolitan Police Department.

"We didn't have a really really cold winter this year, and you have more people out and about and unfortunately sometimes you get people that are up to no good," says Contee.

Police made several arrests in the spring and crime appears to be trending down now, says Contee. Residents like Tasha Simmons, who lives on Minnesota Ave., a few blocks from Fort Dupont Park, are still concerned.

"I have been with someone who was robbed, but I wasn't robbed because I started running first. But she ended up being robbed," says Simmons.

Since then, she is more careful when going out. Commander Contee says police are having monthly meetings with the community to discuss safety.

Crime in the city as a whole during the past 12 months has increased 4 percent over the same period the year before.

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly identified the location of the neighborhoods showing an increase in crime. Penn Branch, Fort Davis Park and Dupont Park are neighborhoods in Southeast D.C. distinct from Anacostia. 

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