WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Police Chief Robert Contee started 2023 with a message that encouraged communities to work with the Metropolitan Police Department to curb gun violence in D.C.

In his message, Contee said 203 people died in the District in 2022 due to “senseless violence,” noting that, in many cases, those responsible for the violence used illegal guns.

“It is completely unacceptable, and it must stop now,” said Contee. “Gun violence is an epidemic that is tearing life from our city. What’s left behind are the countless friends and family members whose lives have been forever changed.”

Contee stated that D.C. saw an overall decrease in crime in 2022, with a 7% reduction in violent crimes and a 3% reduction in property crimes when compared to 2021. That said, the chief acknowledged that those figures don’t bring comfort to the family members of crime victims.

“It is up to all of us, as we start 2023, to do everything in our power to continue the downward trend of violence in the District of Columbia,” Contee wrote, noting through bullet points some of the work MPD is doing:

  • Our detectives are working tirelessly to investigate every crime and bring justice to the families of victims.
  • Our officers continue to proactively take a record number of illegal guns off the street, at an average of eight to nine guns each day in 2022.
  • MPD continues to utilize an intelligence-led policing strategy, along with our local and federal partners, to target individuals that we know are committing acts of violence.
  • The department is utilizing data-driven deployment strategies to supplement areas of the city that are experiencing higher volumes of criminal activity and emerging crime trends.
  • We’re focused on community policing and building bridges in every neighborhood to stop violence from even occurring in the first place.

Contee told people who live in the District the “most powerful tool in combating violence in our neighborhoods and solving crimes is you — our community. We can’t do this alone.”

To that end, Contee encouraged anyone who knows anything about a crime or may know something, no matter how small the detail, to share that information with detectives as they work to solve cases.

“We all have the opportunity to continue the downward trend of crime in our neighborhoods and hold people accountable,” Contee said in his message, which ended with the simple statment: “Together, we can put an end to the violence in our communities.”