Data on Crime Reduction Programs Shows Disbursement more than Reduction

From June 11 of 2019 to June 11 of 2021, D.C. Witness tracked homicides in DC neighborhoods with and without violence interrupters’ programs. Data shows violence dispersing from designated program areas to other areas in DC. 

D.C. Witness received boundaries of the current violence interrupters programs from the DC City Council, and  used it to identify areas in the city where there are active violence interrupter sites.

The violence interrupter programs are run out of two government agencies, DC’s Office of the Attorney General and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood and Safety Engagement. The programs partner with local grassroots organizations such as the Alliance of Concerned Men, Father Factor, Inc. (Murder Free DC) and the National Association of Returning Citizens to interfere in disputes, the top motive for homicides in DC, in the programs’ respective localities.

D.C. Witness recorded 181 homicides between June 11, 2019 and June 11, 2020. Approximately 36 of the murders occurred in ONSE neighborhoods and approximately nine occurred in the Cure the Streets neighborhoods, a violence interrupter program that is funded by the OAG. These homicides were approximately 20 percent  of 2019-2020 violent crime murders in the city. 

Between June 12, 2020 and June 11, 2021, D.C. Witness recorded approximately 210 homicides, a 16 percent increase from the previous year. Approximately two-thirds of 2020-2021 murders transpired in areas without violence interrupters, Approximately 34 occurred in OAG neighborhoods and 12 in ONSE neighborhoods. 

In both periods, most homicides in OAG areas took place in Southeast, while most homicides in ONSE areas took place in Northeast DC. 

Cure the Streets reports indicate that OAG’s violence interrupters are concentrated largely in Wards 7 and 8, while data suggests ONSE sites are more present in northeast DC but have locations in SE as well. 

D.C. Witness reached out to ONSE and Cure the Streets (CTS) for information regarding violence interrupter data time frames. Neither program responded to D.C. Witness requests for information, but the OAG released an article with homicide and assault with dangerous weapons data on violence interrupter sites on Aug. 3.

According to DC Attorney General Karl A. Racine, a consistent proponent of violence interrupters, these two programs expected to see overlap in their operations early on.

Today, Cure the Streets employs 60 staff members across Wards 5, 7, and 8. According to the OAG website, violence interrupters are hired for their credibility, relationships, and influence in their neighborhoods, engaging the community to identify high-risk individuals, address petty conflict and mitigate retaliation. 

From January 2020 to August 2020, the OAG’s violence interrupter program initiated a total of 107 conflict mediations across the District according to OAG data. Forty-four were carried out by the 12 active violence interrupters at the Trinidad-Arboretum site in Ward 5 alone, engaging 788 total residents. The OAG data listed a response to one violent incident during that time period. 

According to the OAG, violence interrupters at the Washington Highlands/Congress Heights site in Ward 8 engaged 34 meditations as of June 2021 with 19 participants and eight responses to shootings. 

The site at Marshall Heights/Benning Heights employs only six active violence interrupters, and is the smallest staff of all the OAG sites, according to the office’s data. As of June 2021. Marshall Heights/Benning Heights violence interrupters carried out 11 conflict mediations and responded to five total violent incidents. The site has 25 program participants. 

*Editor’s note: The story was updated to reflect information from the OAG’s office.