Video: MPD Chief Cathy Lanier on 2013 Homicides

After achieving a milestone in 2012 with less than 100 homicide victims in a year, the District of Columbia will see an increase in the number of murders in 2013. On Dec. 9, police chief Cathy Lanier sat down with Homicide Watch D.C. reporters Megan Arellano and Clara Pak to speak about homicides in 2013.

Looking back on the year, Lanier attributed this year’s increase in homicides to the September mass shooting at the Navy Yard:

When you look at year to year calculations of shootings, homicides, things of that nature, you obviously are comparing year to year equally amongst what types of crimes you’re looking at. We didn’t have a mass shooting like Navy Yard in our history to compare that to. That mass shooting, that’s 12 people that were murdered in one instance, 12 people murdered in less than 20 minutes. So that is what had the biggest impact on our numbers. If you look at homicides with the exclusion of the Washington Navy Yard, we’re right about where we were last year. It’ll fluctuate throughout the year, all the way to the end of the year, but we’re right about where we were.

Though the number of homicide victims rose, Lanier said she still saw progress in the journey to lower homicides. In the segment below, Lanier explains how figures other than the number of victims that indicate D.C. is moving forward.

Disrupting gang violence to reduce homicide remains a tactical priority to Lanier. After more than five years of intervention with gang members, Lanier says that gang violence is lessening in DC.

The attitude of police officers throughout the department plays a huge role in reducing homicides every year. Lanier explains the ideal mentality for her team below.

Another key tool to reducing homicides in the district is MPD’s application of technology. In the following segment, Lanier explains the science that helps to reduce murders and how the proliferation of cameras has helped the department.

We asked what to expect in 2014:

In closing, Lanier said, “I think Washington D.C. on a national scale is doing very well. We get requests from people all over the world to come and see what it is we’re doing to get the drops we’re having. But we got to keep working at it […] You can’t rest on success, you have to keep pushing forward.”

Read the full Q&A here.

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