A double homicide in Washington on Friday brings the city’s year-to-date murder count to the same level as that of all of last year.
The number of murders in the nation’s capital so far this year is 105, compared to 72 homicides in the same time period last year. That’s a 45% increase.
The slayings have wiped out over a decade of lower annual murder totals, including a 20-year low of 88 in 2012.
D.C. is smarting after a deadly summer fraught with multiple homicides, including the high-profile quadruple murder in one of Washington’s poshest neighborhoods where three members of a family and their nanny were killed near the vice president’s residence and Embassy Row.
Washington’s Metropolitan Police Department declined to comment to CNN about the increased number of homicides, but Police Chief Cathy Lanier, appearing on National Public Radio’s Washington area affiliate WAMU, said 95% of the murders are occurring in the city’s Ward 8, a high poverty district.
“We’re seeing a dramatically increasing number of people who are out on community release, under supervision, that have long, violent criminal histories that are just continuing to commit crime” in Ward 8, she said.
Friday night’s double homicide comes as Lanier initiated an “all hands on deck” policy that began Friday at 3 p.m., and is scheduled through 6 a.m. Sunday morning. Every officer is patrolling the city in cruisers, on bikes and on foot, pulled from desk and other light duties, according to the police department.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on Thursday announced initiatives addressing the issue, including allowing overtime for extra police officers to patrol streets, creating incentives for property owners to install outside cameras, and making it tougher for repeat violent offenders to be in community placement programs.
Washington is not the only city struggling with an increase in homicides. Baltimore, Milwaukee, New Orleans, Chicago, and St. Louis, among others, have seen climbing murder numbers.