The District ranked third for its rate of violent crime -- which includes homicides, assaults, rapes and robberies -- behind Detroit and Baltimore.Damn you Detroit and Baltimore!
Joanne Savage, an American University criminologist who has tracked D.C. crime trends dating to 1960, said that "in the long term, we're doing quite well." But that's when comparing the city to itself, she said. This kind of success would look like failure almost anywhere else, she added.Hey, stop stealing my material!
"Some cities have never seen rates like what our low point is," Savage said.
Ramsey noted the sharp divide between rich and poor in the District. "It just seems like people are on one side of the scale or another, with nothing in between," he said.
Many residents sense that conditions are getting worse. "I have what I consider to be a crisis of crime today," said Sam Bost, a Deanwood resident and president of the Far Northeast/Southeast Council.So it's come to this. "Hi, my name is Bob and I'll be your mugger today."
His Northeast neighborhood has been plagued by shootings and robberies. Drug dealers and their customers block streets, he said, and teenagers go joy riding in all-terrain vehicles. "I certainly don't want to leave home," he said.
In interviews, the mayor and other civic boosters agreed that this kind of crime and the struggling public school system remain the two major impediments to Williams's goal of attracting 100,000 new residents.
"I get e-mail from people who've moved into the city. . . . In some cases, they're sorry they have moved" because of crime, Williams said in a recent interview.
One illustration of what the city is up against comes from police reports detailing Washington's many armed robberies.
Those reports show that in many D.C. neighborhoods, robbers do not feel the need to tell their victims, "This is a robbery."
Instead, they merely show that they have a weapon, and let the victim know in street lingo that they are about to be held up.
One common phrase was used during a 1 a.m. holdup last month near the Howard University campus. The robber simply told his victim, "You know what time it is."