What has DC done to drastically reduce crime?
Each year, Forbes compiles its list of America's most dangerous cities. There are several stalwarts who show up on the list year after year, mostly hard-hit former manufacturing cities like Detroit, St. Louis and Baltimore. For many years, the District was another mainstay on the list, but when it came time to put out the 2012 version, many people with connections to the city - as well as those considering purchasing one of the homes for sale in Washington, DC - were pleasantly surprised to see that the District was nowhere in sight.
In fact, the reduction was so drastic that, according to Forbes, the Capitol's crime rate had been slashed to about half the levels of Detroit, the city that earned the list's top spot. Moreover, much smaller cities like Little Rock, Arkansas, and New Haven, Connecticut, had significantly higher levels of crime rates than DC did.
Of course, this raises the obvious question: What has DC done to so significantly reduce its crime? For decades, the city had fought valiantly to lower its crime rate, and although it had made praiseworthy strides, it couldn't seem to completely shake the scourge.
However, a thorough and extensive crime-reduction approach has seemed to work wonders in the last few years. According to University of Pennsylvania criminology professor John Roman, a strong crime crackdown, gentrification, legal reforms and tax breaks have all combined to bring crime levels to much better levels.
"If you want to change crime at a place you have to change the nature of the place," said Roman, according to Forbes.
One likely contributor to the crime reversal is the recent economic success of the District. Even as other metros have struggled since the recession of the late 2000s - including most of the other cities on Forbes' list of dangerous cities - DC has managed to buck the trend. A strong job market and a desirable social scene have helped lure professionals to the city. As a result, neighborhoods have been transformed from crime-ridden slums into much safer regions.
"Three to four square miles went from brownfields to upscale condos," Roman told the source. This has helped the city fight crime and "salvage the core of downtown without really displacing people."
According to the DCist, this has helped reduce the incidents of many types of crimes, but especially murders. In the early 1990s, the source reports, the city was plagued with 500 homicides a year. In 2012, the city is on pace for 100 murders.