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Putting Homicide Rates in Their Place

Attention-freezing mass shootings aside, the number of homicides nationally dropped 18 percent in the last five years. But this decline differs from what happened in the 1990s, when homicide rates fell by 40 percent and violence declined in every large city in America. This time, the rates varied wildly from one city to another.

The District of Columbia, once dubbed “the murder capital of America,” saw the annual number of homicides plummet from 482 in 1991 to 88 in 2012, and homicide has declined 50 percent in the last five years. Its ranking among the 25 largest cities went from number 1 in 1990 to number 8 in 2012. Other cities, Chicago and Las Vegas, for instance, reversed direction in 2007 and saw increases in murders topping 15 percent.

What is going on in cities where murders are down, and what isn't happening where they are up? What are the most important elements of a place with respect to homicides and public safety? The panelists will start with the District of Columbia example and branch out to lessons and gleanings from other large locales.


Cathy Lanier, chief of police, Metropolitan Police Department, Washington, D.C.

James Lynch, professor and chair, Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, University of Maryland; former director, Bureau of Justice Statistics, U.S. Department of Justice

John Roman, senior fellow, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute; executive director, District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute

Nancy La Vigne, director, Justice Policy Center, Urban Institute (moderator)


Speaker Biographies
This Most Recent Decline in U.S. Violent Crime Is Different From the Last One

Date & Time Tuesday, March 5, 2013