WASHINGTON - Since last spring, we have been reporting on the alarming spike in homicides in Washington D.C. this year. The total number of homicide for 2015 is 162, a 54 percent increase from last year.
On the final day of the year, we asked a community leader, a police officer and the mayor about what is causing all of this violence.
Paul Trantham, an ANC commissioner in Ward 8, represents one of the most violent areas of the District.
“We just had two murders on Hartford Street within the last two days,” he told us.
One of the killings involved 34-year-old Darnell Mayfield. He was the 161st person murdered in D.C. this year.
Tratham is outraged and impassioned about the homicide spike in the city.
He said, “We have had all of these forums. We have had discussion after discussion. And right after we have these discussions, guess what? ‘Boom, boom, boom’ again.
“So many people want to blame the mayor, blame the police, but the police and the mayor are not the ones out here shooting people and killing people. It’s the people within our communities.”
The police union said the violent crime spike causes are complicated but widespread.
“It’s multi-faceted,” said D.C. Police Officer Russell Mullins Jr., executive steward for the DC Police Union. “The rise in homicides can be attributed to across the nation. They are rising everywhere. You have lack of retention in most departments, even in ours.”
“[Black Lives Matter], this group, are out on the front streets talking about police brutality. It’s no longer police brutality. It’s community brutality against one another,” said Trantham.
“You have all the anti-police sentiment now that is out there,” said Mullins. “If they feel as if the police may be a little apprehensive to do any proactive policing or aggressive policing, it’s going to embolden them to start carrying their weapons with them and give them more opportunity to shoot at each other.”
“They say they need jobs,” Trantham said. “Let’s be honest. They don't want jobs. They really don't want no jobs because there are many job opportunities out here for people who truly want a job. They want to smoke the marijuana, the K2 and just do whatever they want to do. Be buck wild.”
“You have that coupled with economy and time of the year, it’s multi-factor,” Mullins said. “It’s not just one thing that can be attributed to the rise in homicides.”
“There is a thing right now where people don't value life, and that's sad in America,” said Trantham.
D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser's spokesperson sent us a statement that says:
“Mayor Bowser’s top priority is to protect the safety of the public. She’s toured communities across all eight wards hardest hit by violent crimes. In September, Mayor Bowser introduced a comprehensive public safety agenda designed to combat violent crime in the District, which included increasing police presence on streets and in communities, providing the Metropolitan Police Department with the tools and resources it needs to protect our neighborhoods and make our city safer and stronger, as well as provided communities hardest hit by violent crimes with wrap-around services they need and deserve.”
D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier's spokespeople declined to comment on the homicide spike.