Robberies drop, assaults rise in the District amid COVID-19 pandemic

Total violent and property crimes hit lower numbers compared to this time last year, but assaults rose as the novel coronavirus spreads, District data shows.

About 1,400 property crimes and more than 240 violent crimes – which includes assault – have occurred in the District between March 16 and April 15, a 37 percent and 14 percent drop, respectively, compared to the same 30-day period last year, according to the Metropolitan Police Department’s crime map. The number of total robberies – both with and without a gun – in that time frame has dropped by 28 percent compared to numbers notched last year, according to MPD data.

GW moved all classes online March 10 for the two weeks following spring break to prevent the spread of COVID-19, but officials extended online courses to the rest of the semester and canceled Commencement on the National Mall on March 16. D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser declared a state of emergency and a public health emergency on March 11 and issued a stay-at-home order for District residents on March 31.

MPD Chief Peter Newsham told The Washington Post Monday that the department is attempting to determine whether burglary rates could be dropping at private homes but increasing among closed businesses. The total number of District-wide burglaries has only increased by one count from March 16 to April 15 compared to last year’s numbers, MPD data shows.

Newsham said he’s concerned about the possibility of an underreporting of domestic violence cases because survivors may not report incidents since they are living with their abusers, The Post reported.

“I think that for our most violent offenders, this pandemic has not changed their behavior at all,” Newsham told The Post.

The Post reported that MPD officers are issuing more citations to reduce the number of people sent to jail and taking more witness statements by phone to prevent excessive contact with community members. The Post’s crime analysis shows that cities across the United States, like Dallas and Atlanta, are experiencing similar drops in property crimes but the number of violent crimes has remained consistent between years.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.