Sexual Assaults Drive Increase in Crime in D.C.

City records fewest homicides in more than 50 years

Sexual assaults were largely responsible for a slight increase in violent crime in 2012, according to D.C. police.

Police Chief Cathy Lanier discussed the figures Thursday at a news conference that also highlighted a historic drop in homicides in the nation's capital. There were 88 slayings in Washington last year, the lowest total on record since 1961.

The spike in sexual assaults is mostly driven by cases in which the victim and the attacker knew each other, Lanier said. Such cases more than doubled from 2011 to 2012. Many assaults are occurring on college campuses and at entertainment venues, Lanier said.

Overall, crime was up 3 percent in the District last year. Mayor Vincent Gray said that justifies his request to the D.C. Council to hire 50 more police officers.

The drop in homicides reflects a downward trend in violent crime nationwide and is in line with declining homicides in other big cities. New York City officials say in 2011 homicides dropped to 515 from more than 2,200 in 1990. Houston reported 198 homicides in 2011, down from 457 in 1985, while Los Angeles police reported fewer than 300 after ending 1992 with about 1,100. Across the country, violent crime reported by police to the FBI fell by 3.8 percent last year from 2010.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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