What data tell us about public safety in DC


Public safety is the focus of the latest chapter of the Urban Institute’s Our Changing City interactive web feature, which tells the story of change in the District of Columbia.

Known in the 1990s as the nation’s “murder capital,” this chapter explores how DC went on to experience dramatic drops in violent crime from 2000 to 2014, particularly in places like the Navy Yard, Gallery Place, and downtown. However, this summer’s spike in violence has demonstrated that there is still a clear need for innovative strategies to protect communities from violence and support healthy development for residents affected by it.

While it’s too early to tell if the violence we have seen this summer is the start of a worrying new trend, we know violent crime inflicts devastating harms on DC’s communities. The tragic loss of life challenges us to respond with a sense of urgency and deliver innovative new strategies to build safer, healthier cities. 

If we want to make a meaningful impact on these issues and make DC a safer place for all, we must employ a holistic public safety approach. It must go beyond policing to include social services and give communities a leading voice in designing and delivering these services.

To learn more about violent crime patterns in the District, explore the newest chapter of Our Changing City.