The District today is among the safest of big cities, far from the “murder capital” it once was. Yet recent shootings in the area recall shades of the neighborhood’s violent past. D.C. Metropolitan Police Chief Cathy Lanier joins a studio audience for this "Kojo In Your Community" at NPR's NoMa headquarters to explore what the rapid transformation of neighborhoods like NoMa has meant for public safety.
10 Highlights From KIYC: Public Safety In NoMa And Across The District
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier discussed recent crime headlines and gave an update on public safety in NoMa and the District.
- 1. Statistics show year-to-date homicide numbers are up across the city. But a monthly comparison to last year's numbers show a drop, said D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier. Non-fatal shootings are down, robberies are down and violent crime is down by 15 percent. Lanier partially attributed the drop to the time of year, as violent crime decreases during colder months -- though domestic violence cases spike during this same period.
- 2. Youth involvement in violent crime is lower in D.C. than the national average. In the District, the violent crime rate among youths is 9 percent. Nationally, it’s almost 15 percent.
- 3. There's a "settling period" of crime rates in all new neighborhoods. Lanier said crime spiked in NoMa almost two years ago, but has since settled. As residency rates rise, the tension between new and old neighborhoods tends to relax.
- 4. A common sentiment echoed through KIYC: NoMa residents feel safe in their neighborhood. As with any large city, residents take precautions to avoid being victims, such as not walking while talking on a smart phone. But they don't feel confined to their homes after dark, many said.
- 5. Heroin is going to be next big drug threat in the city, Lanier said. An extremely potent form of heroin that's caused overdoses across the nation has reached D.C.
- 6. On the D.C. Council's marijuana decriminalization bill: “I don’t think it's going to have a huge impact on the city. I don’t think it's going to have a huge impact on crime," Lanier said. She added that smoking and driving will be the police department's main concern if Congress approves the law.
- 7. Lanier thinks D.C. is the most beautiful city in America. The KIYC audience heartily agreed.
- 8. Those "SWAT-like" uniforms some D.C. police officers wear are actually mountain bike uniforms. Lanier said bicycle cops need extra pockets because they don't drive a vehicle.
- 9. The Metropolitan Police Department responds to a Priority 1 call in about five minutes. Lanier, who has been on the force for 24 years, credited the fast response time to improved technology. "The tools we used back then [in the 1990s] were just short of a slate and chisel," she recalled. The department is now one of the most technologically-advanced police forces in the U.S.
- 10. Lanier feeds the deer that have been displaced into her Fort Lincoln neighborhood in Northeast D.C. because of development in other parts of the city. “I feed them. I do feed them."