FBI Launches New Mission To Fight Murder Surge in DC

(Alex Wong/Getty Images)
January 26, 2024

The FBI will lead a mission the Department of Justice announced Friday to combat an explosion in homicides and other crimes in Washington, D.C.

"Last year, we saw an encouraging decline in violent crime in many parts of the country, but there is much more work to do—including here in the District of Columbia," Attorney General Merrick Garland said in a release. "This surge in law enforcement resources will build on the Department’s efforts to target the individuals and organizations that are driving violent crime in the nation’s capital. The Justice Department will not rest until every community in our country is safe from the scourge of violent crime."

The department will utilize the FBI's Gun Violence Analytic Cell to find additional federal investigations it can open to fight carjackings and violent crime. Federal prosecutors will also be on hand to follow and work on violent crime cases.

At a time when many large cities across the country have seen crime, especially killings, decrease, D.C.'s crime rates have gone in the opposite direction.

The 10 largest cities in the country, among them Philadelphia, Houston, and Los Angeles, saw homicides fall 15 percent in 2023 compared with the previous year. In the district, however, homicides increased 35 percent and robberies by 67 percent, contributing to a 39 percent increase in violent crime overall. Carjackings were up 82 percent.

Matthew Graves, U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, blamed the crime surge on lenient criminal justice laws resulting in judges giving shorter sentences to younger perpetrators, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Violent crime in Washington, D.C., has also had an economic cost, causing businesses to close down. A popular seafood restaurant chain shut down both of its locations in November, with the manager of one of them indicating that violent crime—which included a shooting that happened across the street from the establishment—played a role in the decision. The other location primarily cited price increases and other economic factors.