As the capital of the United States, Washington, DC, is a hub of political, cultural, and economic activity, making it an exciting place to live. However, like any major city, there are concerns about safety and crime rates. In this article, we delve into the safety landscape of Washington, DC, exploring property and violent crime rates, homicides and firearm-related injuries, traffic fatalities, law enforcement controversies, and the safest and least safe neighborhoods in the city. By examining these factors and comparing them with national averages and other major cities, we aim to provide a balanced understanding of safety in the nation’s capital.

It’s important to put this data into context. Washington, DC is not an outlier when it comes to crime. Homicide and most other violent crimes declined in American cities in the first half of 2023, but remain above levels seen before the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a new study of crime trends in 37 cities released in July 2023 by the Council on Criminal Justice. But overall, property crime is up (and rising) in urban areas across the country, particularly motor vehicle thefts which rose by 33.5% in the first half of the year.

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Property Crime in Washington, DC

According to recent statistics, the property crime rate in DC is higher than the national average. Incidents of burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft contribute to this rate. The property crime rate in Washington, DC is 41.35 per 1,000 residents. Property crime overall is up 29% in Washington, DC, reaching its highest mark since 2017. Motor vehicle thefts and nonresidential burglaries were higher in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2019 (pre-pandemic, as lockdowns in 2020 and 2021 skewed some data). Drug offenses, residential burglaries, and larcenies were lower in the first half of 2023 compared to the same period in 2019. Thefts that don’t involve cars are up 25% compared with the same time last year.

Violent crime in Washington, DC

The rate of violent crime – which includes criminal acts such as robbery, aggravated assault, and sexual assault – in Washington, DC, is also higher than the national average, with a violent crime rate is 56.2, which is nearly two and half times higher than the US average of 22. 7. This category includes crimes such as robbery, aggravated assault, and sexual assault. While the city has made significant strides in reducing violent crime over the years, certain neighborhoods continue to experience higher rates of these incidents. According to the most recent stats from the DC Metropolitan Police, violent crime rose 17% in July 2023, 2/3rds of violent crimes involve guns with violent crimes where guns are used up 52% this year and 91% above the pre-COVID 2019 baseline.

Sadly, DC surpassed its 100th homicide in June 2023, the first time that’s happened since 2003, putting homicides up 19% since 2022. 63% of 2023 homicides happened in specific areas of the district – wards 7 and 8. Ward 8 alone accounted for 85% of DC’s total increase in homicides this year. D.C has strict gun laws, requires all guns to be registered and limits the types of guns that can be owned or possessed. Despite this, violent crime with guns is up 10% YTD and guns have been used in 85% of DC’s homicides so far in 2023. Efforts to curb gun violence include community-based initiatives, gun buyback programs, and stricter gun control measures. 

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Traffic Fatalities in Washington, DC

In comparison to national averages, Washington, DC, has a higher rate of traffic fatalities. As of August 7, 2023, there were 31 traffic fatalities in Washington, DC, which is a 41% increase from the previous year. In the nation, overall, traffic fatalities are decreasing. For the first quarter of 2023, an estimated 9,330 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes, a decrease of about 3.3 percent as compared to 9,645 fatalities reported in the first quarter of 2022. DC officials have been working on reducing traffic fatalities since 2015, with a program called “Vision Zero.” The initial goal was to have zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2024, a target that Mayor Muriel Bowser recently admitted was too ambitious. 

Law Enforcement in Washington, DC

Washington, DC, is divided into seven police districts, each responsible for maintaining law and order in its designated area. Controversies around law enforcement in the city have included allegations of excessive force and concerns about staffing levels and funding. These issues have sparked discussions about police reform and community-oriented policing strategies. In July of 2023, the Washington D.C. City Council voted 12-1 to approve an emergency crime measure to make it easier for judges to detain adults and juveniles charged with violent crimes ahead of their trial, if the court finds probable cause that the defendant committed a violent crime. The emergency crime measure also has other stipulations, including increased penalties for gun possession, and defines circumstances under which police can pursue a suspect. 

Safest Neighborhoods in Washington, DC

Washington, DC is home to several neighborhoods that are considered to be some of the safest in the city. While crime rates can fluctuate, here are a few neighborhoods that have a reputation for safety. As a basis of comparison, the median sale price of a home in Washington, DC is $612,500, and the average monthly rent for an apartment is $2,583. Overall, housing in Washington, DC is 47% higher than the national average. 


Georgetown is known for its historic charm, upscale atmosphere, and relatively low crime rates. The neighborhood’s well-maintained streets, thriving retail scene, and vibrant community contribute to a sense of security. Unsurprisingly, Georgetown’s desirability is reflected in higher home prices and rents. The median price of a home here is $1.6M, the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $2,500, which is an 11% increase from the previous year. The average cost of rent in the city is $1,986.


Tenleytown boasts a mix of residential areas and commercial establishments, providing a balanced urban experience. With its proximity to American University and the Tenleytown-AU Metro station, the neighborhood attracts students, professionals, and families. Lower crime rates and a strong community presence contribute to its reputation as a safe area. The median price range of a home here is $1.05 and the average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment is $2,380.

Cleveland Park

Cleveland Park has tree-lined streets, historic architecture, and a welcoming community. With a range of dining options and cultural attractions, the neighborhood fosters a sense of belonging. Its safety record and family-friendly environment make it an attractive choice for growing families and retirees. The median price of a home here is $537K, the average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment is $2,450.


Palisades offers a tranquil suburban feel within the city limits. Nestled alongside the Potomac River, this neighborhood is known for its picturesque views and peaceful ambiance. It’s a quieter area and may not be the first choice for single folks, but it’s perfect for anyone who wants a respite from the hustle and bustle of downtown DC.

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Spring Valley

Spring Valley is an affluent residential neighborhood known for its spacious homes and leafy streets. With relatively low crime rates, it appeals to those seeking a quiet and secure environment. The neighborhood’s proximity to American University and Tenleytown further adds to its appeal. The median sale price of a home in Spring Valley is $2.4M, rentals tend to be houses and the average rent for a home is $7,000, but the average rent for a one bedroom apartment in Spring Valley is $2,519.

Least Safe Neighborhoods in Washington, DC

According to the Metropolitan Police Department, which provides public data on crime through the DC Crime Cards website, Wards 2 and 5 have the highest overall crime rates in 2023 (mostly property crimes) and Wards 7 and 8 have the highest violent crime rates.

(The District. is divided into eight wards, each represented by its own councilmember. Here’s a map of DC’s Wards.)

Despite ongoing efforts to improve safety, crime statistics can impact perceptions of these neighborhoods. Home prices and rents in these areas may be more affordable than in safer neighborhoods, reflecting the complex relationship between crime rates and affordability. While these neighborhoods have reputations for being less-safe, perception, public services, and community engagement have a huge impact on how safe people feel in any given area. 

The areas with the highest crime rates historically in DC include:


Anacostia has historically experienced higher crime rates compared to other parts of the city. While efforts have been made to revitalize the neighborhood, it still grapples with challenges related to crime and socio-economic disparities. Community initiatives and investments aim to address these issues and improve safety. The median price for a home in Anacostia is $468,000, average rent for a one bedroom apartment is $1,800. 

Congress Heights

Congress Heights has faced challenges with crime, particularly violent crime, in the past. However, community organizations and local initiatives are working to improve safety and create positive changes in the neighborhood. The median price for a home in Anacostia is $415,000, average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,310.

Benning Heights

Benning Heights has been associated with higher crime rates, including incidents of violent crime and property crime. Here again, community organizations and law enforcement agencies are actively engaged in addressing these challenges. The median price for a home in Anacostia is $450,000, average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,333.

Ivy City

Ivy City has faced crime-related issues, including property crime and drug-related activities. The neighborhood has seen development and transformation in recent years, which has contributed to positive changes in safety and community engagement. The median price for a home in Ivy City is $727,000, average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,960. 


Deanwood has dealt with crime challenges, including robberies and assaults. However, community efforts, investments, and initiatives focused on youth development and community empowerment are working towards enhancing safety and well-being. The median price for a home in Deanwood is $425,000, average rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $1,360.

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