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Nation's Capital Remains an Outlier as Crime Drops Across US

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WASHINGTON, D.C. - In 2023, cities large and small across the U.S. experienced a record drop in violent crime, specifically homicides. 

Only two cities missed out, continuing to see surges in crime. The nation's capital was one of them, with murder taking the lives of 274 people. It marks a 36 percent increase year-to-year, and a 20-year high. 

"It's become a real factor in providing for a productive and safe workplace," said Tom Wickham, Senior Vice President of State and Local Policy for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. 

Wickham says his employees no longer feel safe during their work commute, getting lunch, or engaging in other regular activities. 

"And then when we have these violent events occurring very close to our places of business, it only causes those fears to rise," Wickham tells CBN News.

Local D.C. businessman Mike Gill recently became the victim of a fatal car-jacking in the downtown business district at rush hour. Wickham says Gill's murder hit especially close to home.

"A local business leader, someone who had been also a government official, like many of us, who appreciates what government service is and really knows the business community well, and taken in such a tragic way. It galvanized all of us to do something more to reach out to the policymakers to try to put an end to this rising violence," Wickham said.

The Chamber of Commerce joined 69 other downtown businesses and organizations in demanding the city take action to crack down on crime. 

"We offered our hands in partnership to work with the Mayor and City Council to look at ways that we can reduce this violence," Wickham said.

A recent study from the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform and the D.C. Police Department found it's likely only 500 individuals are driving a majority of the District's repeat gun violence. 

It concluded that since their violence is predictable it's also preventable.

At the beginning of the year, the Justice Department moved to allocate more federal prosecutors to work on D.C. violent crime cases. The FBI and other federal agencies are also stepping up.

Meanwhile, the D.C. Council voted to reverse its progressive strategies by passing a sweeping crime bill to change how policing and punishment are carried out. 

"I thank you Madam Secretary, the bill is approved unanimously," Council Chairman Phil Mendelson said after the final vote. 

Some of the measures in the bill include, no loitering drug-free zones, harsher penalties for gun crimes, new felony designations for organized retail crime, and expanded pre-trial detentions for those charged with violent crimes. 

One of the more controversial provisions allows authorities to collect DNA samples from suspects and enter it into a national database, without waiting for a conviction.

In a statement, the U.S. Attorney's office praised the bill, saying it will provide law enforcement with "crucial tools."

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About The Author

Caitlin Burke Headshot

Caitlin Burke serves as National Security Correspondent and a general assignment reporter for CBN News. She has also hosted the CBN News original podcast, The Daily Rundown. Some of Caitlin’s recent stories have focused on the national security threat posed by China, America’s military strength, and vulnerabilities in the U.S. power grid. She joined CBN News in July 2010, and over the course of her career, she has had the opportunity to cover stories both domestically and abroad. Caitlin began her news career working as a production assistant in Richmond, Virginia, for the NBC affiliate WWBT