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D.C. on track for record-low 2012 murder rate

Thursday - 11/29/2012, 6:39am  ET

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Last year the District counted 108 homicides, the lowest number since the 1963 total of 95.

The total for 2012 is on track to be even lower than 2011's, and Police Chief Cathy Lanier is talking about it.

As of Nov., 28, the city had 78 homicides compared to 102 homicides by the same time last year.

"There are still 78 families out there that lost somebody, but it's going in the right direction and we want to see it go lower," D.C. Police Chief Cathy Lanier said at a Wednesday press briefing.

Lanier says the city's closure rate on homicide cases is now at about 85 percent.

"In just the past two days, detectives from the homicide unit have made five arrests and closed four homicide cases. They have worked diligently on these cases, some of which go back a few years," The chief said.

Lanier said there are several reasons why her department is making progress.

"I think we've made some very smart investments in technology in the last five years that have paid off. It makes us a little bit more efficient at what we do. I think we have great detectives that have good connections in the community that get good information now. That helps tremendously," said Lanier.

"Obviously the faster we take a violent offender off the street the less opportunity they have to continue to commit other violent crimes, and I think our focus on gangs and guns has been huge. Between the gang unit and the gun unit, the gun unit just celebrated their 5th year, and they've taken a tremendous amount of guns off the street."

Lanier said typically in big cities 90 to 95 percent of all homicides are gun related, but that's changed in the District.

"Our gun-related homicides this year are 63 percent. It's a dramatic drop," said Lanier.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)