Violent Crime Across D.C. Neighborhoods

Earlier this week, we examined the surge in D.C.’s crime rate in 2015. We discovered that, as of August 2015, D.C.’s monthly homicide rate had more than doubled from the 2011 to 2014 average. Since 2011, there had been only one month when D.C.’s murder rate reached as high as 16 victims. There have been 16 or more murders in every month since May of this year (including 14 so far in August).

In this write-up, we’ll examine the violent crime rate within Wards and neighborhood clusters, and rank the most improved and most regressed neighborhoods. The data shows that just three neighborhoods account for nearly 80 percent of the increase in the murder rate so far this year.

D.C.’s crime incidents data can be found here. The source code for the data analysis can be found here. The murder of 23-year old Matthew Castrol Shlonsky on August 16, 2015 in the Shaw neighborhood of Northwest D.C. did not appear to be reported in the crime incidents data. We have manually added it.

Homicides by Ward

Let’s take a look at the annual homicide rate by Ward (Figure 1). For those of you less familiar with D.C.’s geography, here’s a boundary map of each Ward. Since we’re only halfway through 2015, the charts below only consider crimes reported between January and August 19 of each calendar year (rather than the entire calendar year). We’ve excluded Ward 3 because there are not enough data points in that area to create a meaningful chart (although the murder rate there has increased between 2014 and 2015).

Murders are up in every Ward, except 1 and 7, with Ward 8 registering the largest increase. While D.C.’s homicide rate has clearly increased between 2014 and 2015, the rate appears to have begun its increase in 2013 and not 2014. Only Ward 7 experienced a significant decrease in homicides between 2014 and 2015.

Figure 1. Homicides by Ward

ward homicide_v5

The increase in the homicide rate in Ward 8 is equal to just under half of the net increase in the number of murders between 2014 and 2015. The increases in Wards 3 and 5 each make up about 18 percent. Within each Ward, specific neighborhoods have been affected more than others.

Using D.C.’s neighborhood cluster classification, we can calculate the change in the murder rate on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis. The largest increase in murders between 2014 and 2015 occurred in Woodland/Fort Stanton, Garfield Heights, Knox Hill (Ward 8, +8 murders), Douglass, Shipley Terrace (Ward 8, +8 murders), and Shaw, Logan Circle (Ward 2, +5 murders). These three neighborhoods account for 80 percent of the increase in the murder rate so far this year.

The most improved neighborhoods are Sheridan, Barry Farm, Buena Vista (Ward 8, -6 murders) and Deanwood, Burrville, Grant Park, Lincoln Heights, Fairmont Heights (Ward 7, -4 murders).

Non-Homicide Violent Crimes by Ward

Has the increase in murders been accompanied by an increase in other violent crimes? Figure 2 below shows the annual violent crime rate by Ward for the January to August 19 period for each calendar year. It is interesting to note that while Ward 8 appears to have registered the largest increase in homicides from 2014 to 2015, violent crime excluding murders is actually down. A similar observation can be made of Ward 1, 2 , and 3. Ward 7 is the only one to experience a drop in both homicides and other violent crimes.
Figure 2. Other Violent Crimes by Ward

ward violent crimes_v5

Relationship between Homicide and Other Violent Crimes

Figure 3 attempts to measure the relationship between the change in homicides and the change in other violent crimes on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis between 2014 and 2015. Counterintuitively, the correlation is nearly zero. There appears to be no relationship between the change in homicides and the change in other violent crimes. In fact, nearly 40 percent of neighborhoods experienced an improvement in one rate and a regression in the other. The correlation was stronger in 2011-2013, but began breaking down in 2013, indicating that there may have been a structural change in the drivers of D.C.’s homicide rate after 2013. It is difficult to draw any conclusions with only five years of data but it is an area worth additional examination.
Figure 3. Relationship Between Change in Homicides and Other Violent Crimes

homicide and other violence scatter_v2

Most Improved and Most Regressed Neighborhoods

As we noted above, Ward 7 has seen the most improvement among all of the wards, registering significant drops in both homicides and other violent crimes between 2014 and 2015. Chart-it has also ranked D.C. neighborhoods by the largest increase and decrease in violent crimes between 2014 and 2015. We excluded the bottom 20th percentile to prevent neighborhoods with a very low crime rate from distorting the ranking.

Figure 4 shows the top ten most regressed neighborhoods. The top ranked neighborhood is in Ward 4. The next two are in Wards 1 and 5, respectively.

Figure 4. Top 10 Most Regressed Neighborhoods between 2014 and 2015
Avg Incidents*
1Lamond Riggs, Queens Chapel, Fort Totten, Pleasant Hill492456
2Kalorama Heights, Adams Morgan, Lanier Heights492384
3Brookland, Brentwood, Langdon3835119
4Takoma, Brightwood, Manor Park3328103
5NoMa, Union Station, Stanton Park, Kingman Park3353187
6Ivy City, Arboretum Trinidad, Carver Langston2346205
7Capitol Hill, Lincoln Park2022117
8Edgewood, Bloomingdale, Truxton Circle, Eckington1927157
9Twining, Fairlawn, Randle Highlands, Penn Branch, Fort Davis Park, Dupont Park1821134
10Dupont Circle, Connecticut Avenue/K Street1511111

* Average Annual Violent Crime incident only includes period from January to August 19 of the period 2011 to 2015.

Figure 5 shows the top ten most improved neighborhoods. Not surprisingly, the top three are in Ward 7. Congratulations to Ward 7 for bucking the trend and becoming an overall safer place.
Figure 5. Top 10 Most Improved Neighborhoods between 2014 and 2015
Avg Incidents*
1Eastland Gardens, Kenilworth-68-2822
2Fairfax Village, Naylor Gardens, Hillcrest, Summit Park-41-1636
3River Terrace, Benning, Greenway, Fort Dupont-24-45160
4Sheridan, Barry Farm, Buena Vista-21-22115
5Howard University, Le Droit Park, Cardozo/Shaw-18-20139
6Southwest Employment Area, Southwest/Waterfront, Fort McNair, Buzzard Point-17-960
7Georgetown, Burleith/Hillandale-12-431
8West End, Foggy Bottom, GWU-12-324
9Mayfair, Hillbrook, Mahaning Heights-11-1391
10Capitol View, Marshall Heights, Benning Heights-8-24186

* Average Annual Violent Crime incident only includes period from January to August 19 of the period 2011 to 2015.


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