D.C. murder numbers down to record lows

The nation’s capital is on track to end the year with the lowest homicide rate in nearly 50 years, but while the murder rate is dropping, violent crime is still a major problem.

Washington earned the nickname “Murder Capital” back in the early nineties. The number of killings neared 500 a year.

“It had a reputation of drug dealing and violence and so on,” says Pete Mondale, a resident.

Incidents such as last week’s fatal stabbing at the Woodley Park metro station are becoming less frequent. In 2012, D.C. is on track to record fewer than 100 homicides, a rate not seen since 1963.

“Ten years ago I wouldn’t have even walked in this area,” says Jerry Mallory. “Now it has changed a lot. I think it’s a lot safer.”

Some city residents cite dramatic changes to the city during the past two decades.

“There was a shop that used to be right in this section,” says Ginny Mondale. “That’s what I came for. What happened to the shop?”

That shop along 14th St. is long gone, along with the prostitutes and drug dealers. Today it’s one of the hottest spots around for new construction and night life, but crime continues to stalk city residents.

“I was texting someone and somebody came up and grabbed my phone and ran off," says Dafna Steinberg.

Steinberg is lucky she only got robbed and not viciously beaten. The city has seen a rash of street robberies where the suspects are not content to steal, but try to attack their victims as well. Just this week, several women were robbed near Dupont Circle and two of them were left injured.

“They beat up people,” says Steinberg. “A friend of mine was worried about walking home from work.”

The increase in serious injuries prompted Police Chief Cathy Lanier to call on the City Council to enact tougher laws, particularly for robbers who aim to inflict severe injury.