WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — The uptick in crime in the District has Deputy Mayor Lindsey Appiah concerned — but not overwhelmed.
While some hard-core crimes are up, others are down. Mayor Muriel Bowser’s deputy in charge of public safety and justice said she believes cooperation and strategies among various agencies can help drive violence down.
“Gun violence is too high in our city and in our country. We’re waking up to, I think it’s mass shootings in California in the past couple of days,” Appiah said. “Gun violence is too high and also the mayor’s charge is we want all of our young people to thrive. We want them to be neither victims nor perpetrators of crime.”
Still, that is what DC is faced with: a crime spike. So far this year, there have been 14 homicides, up 17 percent from last year at this point. Assault with a deadly weapon is also up 11 percent from 2021.
There have already been 411 motor vehicle thefts so far this year, compared with 256 last year at this time. The only major category down is robbery, according to District statistics.
The new deputy mayor sat down with DC News Now on Tuesday for a 45-minute interview to talk about crime, how to solve it and what to do about juveniles who are getting into more trouble with the law.
The trends do concern Appiah, she said.
“We really do believe one crime is too many. We are trending slightly up at the beginning of the year. Violence crime is down overall because robbery is down,” she said. “So we have these patterns. Last year at this time, robbery was significantly up. Carjacking was up. We believe that the types of practices that we put into place, particularly during the second half of last year will help us to see the same type of trajectories.”
But the deputy mayor who oversees the Metro Police Department isn’t fretting.
“We don’t ever panic at the start of the year. We don’t want to see increases in gun crimes, we don’t want to see increases in young people (involved in crimes),” Appiah said. “But it helps to orient us to what will be the practices that we continue, that we augment and enhance for our strategies for this year which is what we’re doing right now and having those conversations.”
One of the strategies, the deputy mayor said, is working across government entities to have an impact to push down crime.
“Our multi-agency nightlife task force. Our nightlife corridors were experiencing the types of increases in crime… At one point in June, the Golden Triangle, the Connecticut Avenue area…crime increased to 644 percent,” Appiah said. “These were not numbers we could allow to continue.”
Appiah said she expects more crime-reducing experiments in the future.
”You have to try different things and see what works,” she said. “We’ve seen things that work and we’re going to continue that.”