Study: Foggy Bottom has two ‘high crime’ areas

Parts of the Foggy Bottom Campus have been designated high-crime areas, according to a report by the District of Columbia Crime Policy Institute.

Regions around the Foggy Bottom Campus, including the city blocks around the Metro station, Eye Street, Pennsylvania Avenue and 22nd Street, are all designated as high-crime areas according to average yearly crime counts of Census blocks, each containing more than 10 crimes a year. Two blocks around Pennsylvania Avenue and Eye Street have seen more than 25 crimes reported on average per year.

The report measures crime in census blocks, the smallest units of measure by the U.S. Census Bureau. At times they can be larger or smaller than the typical city block.

The 2100 block of Eye Street bordered by Pennsylvania Avenue and the 2000 block of Eye Street between 21st and 20th streets have had more than 25 crimes reported yearly. Seven Census blocks on campus have 10 to 25 crimes reported.

The report, released earlier this month, indicates that 10 or more Part I crimes happen within these areas per year. Part I crimes are serious crimes that include “homicide, sexual assault, aggravated assault, robbery, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, and theft from a motor vehicle.”

But experts say the Foggy Bottom Campus as a whole remains relatively safe. Most Census blocks shown on the campus have low crime rates, according to the report. Two blocks have one to four crimes on average or less. About nine campus blocks have five to nine crimes on average.

According to the report, crimes that take place in the District are highly concentrated in certain zones. These zones are mostly commercial centers, such as shopping areas, but also include the regions surrounding college campuses.

Meagan Cahill, one of the joint authors of the report and an analyst at the think tank The Urban Institute, noted that all of the major college campuses in the District are bordered by or contain high-crime areas. These include GW, American University, Georgetown University, Howard University and Gallaudet University.

Cahill said the report did not adjust for the populations of the city blocks, so the more populated areas tend to be denoted as higher-crime areas.

Although many crimes occur on college campuses, “they are usually lesser ones, such as vending machine thefts, petty robberies and bicycle thefts,” Cahill said.

University Police Chief Kevin Hay echoed this sentiment, saying that while there are high-crime areas around the Foggy Bottom Campus, crime is generally declining, in accordance with regional and national trends.

“For a campus with a 20[,000] to 25,000 student body, crime is relatively low,” Hay said, citing the fact that in 2009 alone there were no incidents of arson, homicide, manslaughter or motor vehicle thefts on either the Foggy Bottom or the Mount Vernon campuses.

Metropolitan Police Department Commander Matt Klein, the commander of MPD’s 2nd District, agreed that the crimes taking place in and around Foggy Bottom are generally not as violent or dangerous as the ones in other areas of the city.

“The majority of crimes around our universities, like GW and Georgetown, involve thefts, like students leaving their laptops and walking away or having things stolen from their dorm rooms,” Klein said. “There are isolated violent crimes, including sexual assaults. I wouldn’t say that that is a trend, but those are crimes that we take very seriously.”

Klein and Hay both said they are working together closely to identify these crimes and find solutions to make college campuses in the area safer.

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