D.C. Homicides on Pace for Lowest Total in Decades

By Martin Weil
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, June 30, 2009

With 2009 half over, the number of homicides reported by police in the District -- 66 -- is 20 percent below last year's figure and is on pace to be the lowest yearly total in decades.

If the homicide rate continued through December, the total for 2009 would be 134. That would be 52 fewer slayings than last year and 47 fewer than in 2007. It would be 35 fewer than in 2006.

Figures posted on the police department's Web site show that the figure for 2006 -- 169 -- was by far the lowest since 1989.

Moreover, a check of published news reports indicates that if this year ended with 134 homicides, that would be the lowest total reported in the District since 1964, when 132 slayings were reported in the city.

The number of homicides in any given jurisdiction has been linked to so many factors that it is almost impossible to predict the rate in any given month based on the rate in the month before.

In addition, criminologists say that the rate of killings often rises during the summer months. Reasons include longer days, which send more people outdoors. Summer's heat also has been linked to an upsurge in violence.

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