D.C. Area Homicide Totals Steady; Major City Murders Rise

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Washington, D.C., ended 2016 with 135 homicides, down 17 percent from the previous year, but the annual total for the Washington region held steady because the number of killings rose in several suburbs, the the Washington Post reports. Prince William County, in Northern Virginia, marked its deadliest year on record. It had 22 killings — more than double the 10 recorded in 2015. The 97 homicides investigated by Prince George’s County police in 2016 marks the second year in a row that the Maryland jurisdiction, which adjoins the capital city, saw its homicide count rise, with an increase of 20 over 2015.


The upward trend in many local jurisdictions echoes the pattern in big cities nationwide. The numbers, however, are generally not so alarming as the surge in 2015 that prompted police chiefs from major cities to gather for a summit on violence. “They’re up again [in 2016], but maybe not quite as bad as the year before,” said Darrel Stephens of the Major Cities Chiefs Association. As of September 30, 37 of 65 agencies the association surveyed reported an increase in homicides compared with 2015. Only five or six major cities, most notably Chicago, are responsible for driving up homicide figures nationally. Washington, D.C., was in the minority of large cities that saw a reversal last year, when its homicide total fell to 135, from 162 in 2015.

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