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Some violent crimes in DC skyrocketed in 2020. The pandemic may be to blame

According to MPD, carjackings were up 141% compared to 2019. Some police districts reported increases as high as 250%.

WASHINGTON D.C., DC — Across D.C., the Metropolitan Police Department reports violent crime is down in 2020 by 4% compared to 2019.

However, it's still been a violent year in the District. MPD data shows the number of homicides in D.C. is up by 21% year-over-year.

When it comes to robberies in the District, a look at the MPD data shows reported robberies are down 11% compared to 2019, but a deeper dive shows violent robberies have actually increased in 2020.

According to the police data, robberies with a gun went up by 202 citywide during the past year. They occurred all over the city, but particularly in hot spots near U Street and in several places in Wards 7 and 8.

Credit: D.C. Crime Cards

According to data provided by MPD, carjackings across the city are also up by 141%.

In the Seventh Police District, which makes up most of Ward 8 in Southeast, carjackings were up 250%.

“In some ways you might look and say that it is surprising. For me, I don't think that is surprising,” Advisory Neighborhood Commission 7F Chair Tyrell Holcomb said. “In the sense that we are in the midst of a pandemic and there are a number of people in our community, specifically in Ward 7 and east of the river as a whole, that were already in position that they did not have means to provide for the family to begin with. And I think COVID has really exacerbated that and highlighted to an even greater magnitude the challenges that exists in our community as it relates to real opportunity for employment.”

Credit: Metropolitan Police Department

RELATED: Two 18-year-olds arrested for string of armed carjackings, robberies across DC

Holcomb said he believes certain crime numbers are up because people are getting desperate for resources during the pandemic.

“I think that there are a number of folks that are committing crimes for the sake of trying to do what they can, on behalf of their family,” Holcomb said. “I think it's really imperative that we understand that there are aspects in our city that are divided, and I think that COVID has only heightened, the fact that that opportunity gap exists.”

Holcomb said he thinks things could get worse after unemployment benefits ended Saturday and a $900 billion pandemic relief package remains unsigned by President Donald Trump.

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“I think that you will see people doing things that they've never in their life thought that they would have to try to commit and do," Holcomb said. “We could start to see more of our homes be under attack in our communities and so I think we have to again really have real conversations. I know that our city has really began working to look at the recovery aspect of COVID. I know that the council has formed a committee that's going to specifically focus on COVID recovery and relief. I know that the mayor has done work around providing opportunities for relief for families, and those that have lost employment. But I think that we have to again have a larger conversation that goes deeper than just the surface to understand that there are already root causes that exist prior to COVID.”

RELATED: DC Police dealing with string of robberies. Is the pandemic playing a factor in the uptick?

Despite all that has happened in 2020, Holcomb said he believes there is still hope that 2021 could be better, but he said work is going to be required to ensure inequities don’t become even greater.

“I believe there is hope. I believe that hope exists within each of us. And I believe hope exists in our ability as a people to always be resilient, and I believe that the people of the District of Columbia, are the most resilient people that I know,” Holcomb said.

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