DC police say robberies are down on U Street but their crime data suggests otherwise

Amid a surge in violent crime, fueled by rising homicides and carjackings, one D.C. police leader says his district's strategy for reducing robberies in a popular section of the city is working. But a check of the District's crime data suggests otherwise.

James Boteler, Commander of D.C.'s Third District, spoke with FOX 5 Thursday to discuss the efforts of a special task force deployed to tackle U Street crime. Long known for its restaurants, music, and nightlife, the U Street corridor is a popular destination for residents and tourists alike.

In May 2022, Ward 1 Councilmember Brianne Nadeau addressed an increase in crime along the corridor by creating a nightlife task force. The task force called for the collaborative efforts of law enforcement, government, community, and business leaders in the area with the goal of reducing nightlife-related violence.

"There was a time during the pandemic when everything was closed and nobody was there, and it was very quiet and with everything reopening it has come back with so much energy that we need more resources for the corridor," Nadeau said at the time. "There's more people coming and the level of conflict that didn't exist in the same way has elevated as well, and we see that all across the city not just in nightlife corridors, so we're using a number of interventions around the city."

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DC police say robberies are down on U Street but their crime data suggests otherwise 

Boteler addressed only robberies along the U Street corridor when he spoke with FOX 5 Thursday.

"The nightlife task force that was stood up by the Deputy Mayor of Public Safety earlier in 2022 has made a dramatic impact in our club zone or our nightlife areas," he said. "We were seeing robberies occurring along the U Street corridor, you know, with our residents and our visitors that we're seeing, coming in and visiting our city for the rich culture nightlife."

"With the stand up of the nightlife task force we've seen a reduction in that type of crime," Boteler continued.

But a search of the Metropolitan Police Department's crime data tells a different story. According to a search of their Crime Cards, an online platform that allows users to search for crime type by police district and geographical areas, robberies along the U Street corridor increased since the task force started.


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During the first six months of 2022, before the task force was in place, 45 incidents of robberies were reported in Advisory Neighborhood Commission 1B. Over the last six months of 2022, 73 incidents of robberies were reported in ANC 1B, an increase of 62%.

Numbers show 20 more incidents of robberies in ANC 1B during the first six months of 2023 when compared to the first six months of 2022, an increase of 44%.

Even homicides increased in the area after the task force was formed. During the first six months of 2022, only one homicide was reported in ANC 1B. That's compared to three reported over the last six months of 2022, and three additional reported in the first six months of 2023.

According to the most recent year-to-date crime comparison data for the District as a whole, homicides have risen by 38%, carjackings are up 59%, and robberies have increased by 70%. Violent crime in total as of Friday, is up 40% compared to the same time last year.

Boteler also said D.C. police were working with members of the clergy in the area. "We had clergy out on the U Street corridor last weekend walking up and down U Street until about 1 a.m. in the morning, engaging with young people," he said. "That seems to have a calming effect sometimes on, on you know, rowdiness."

"Until we can get some more cops on the street, you know, we're utilizing every tactic and effort that we can find out there," he said.

FOX 5 has reached out to Metropolitan Police Department for data clarification but has yet to hear back.


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