Homicides decrease in Washington region

APphoto_Economy Political ParalysisThe number of homicides dropped again last year in the Washington region, including in the District, which grew in population and yet recorded the fewest killings in a half-century.

As of Monday evening, the District had 88 killings in 2012, a milestone for D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier, whose long-standing goal has been fewer than 100 homicides. As recently as 2009, the District had 140 killings. In 2011, there were 108.

In Prince George’s County, where crime dropped in nearly every category, there were 63 homicides, down from 97 in 2011, a harkening back to the 1980s, when the county had more farmland than urban centers or upscale subdivisions.

Police point to several reasons for the decrease, which has been part of a years-long national trend in some major cities across the country.Authorities have broken up dozens of violent gangs, seized thousands of guns, used technology to monitor the streets and directed additional resources to high-crime areas.

And District officials have given residents a financial incentive to provide tips: nearly $600,000 in reward money was paid out last year.

Although homicides have fallen, robberies have been a stubborn problem in the District. Smartphones and designer apparel are popular targets. Police say some criminals are…

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