WASHINGTON - In a weekly email to D.C. residents, Mayor Muriel Bowser detailed her accomplishment and noted the decrease in crime from last year. But it may not be all that it seems.
Bowser touted her administration's achievements, including the controversial crime statistics which she claims are virtually down across the board. She said homicides are down 17 percent and violent robberies down 12 percent from last year.
If you look closer at the numbers, the most egregious of the crimes - the homicide count - is in fact down from 155 homicides in 2015 to 128 homicides in 2016 with just two weeks remaining this year.
While this year's homicides are down from 2015, they were drastically up during her first year as mayor. Former Mayor Vincent Gray, who preceded Bowser and was recently elected to the Ward 7 council seat last month, had some harsh words for Bowser.
"I think to be absolutely fair and candid with people, we need to compare it to the last several years," said Gray. "If you compare the statistics from her first year and the second year to the four years that I was in office, you can see that we have had an incredible increase over those two years by comparison to 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014."
The homicide numbers from 2011 to 2014:
- 2014: 105
- 2013: 104
- 2012: 88
- 2011: 108
Gray stressed the urgent need for more police officers in a city that is facing an extreme police manpower deficiency.
"I happen to believe that the sharp reduction that we have seen in the number of officers - we are down I think below 3,800 - which is well below what [former Police] Chief [Cathy] Lanier said was the threshold that we should not cross," he said. "I happen to believe that Chief Lanier was absolutely right. I also believe that in addition to getting back in the threshold of 4,000, which is the authorized strength of police officers, we should add another couple hundred officers. They should be deployed to the areas where we have seen the sharpest increases in violent crime, where people have been routinely killed sadly - in Ward 7 and Ward 8.
We asked Gray that when he is back on the D.C. council, would he give interim Police Chief Peter Newsham his signature of approval if picked by Mayor Bowser to be the city's top cop? The former mayor said he is not ready to rule him out, but he is also not ready to sign off.