Capital Beefs Up Patrols to Fight Crime

from United Press International

The District of Columbia began putting more police on street patrol today to combat drug-related violence that has made this the nation’s “murder capital.”

Under a crime emergency directive from Police Chief Maurice Turner, about 400 officers will leave their desk duties to walk a beat one or two days a week.

At City Hall, numerous other measures being considered range from calling in the National Guard to tightening the district’s already strict gun laws to adding 700 officers to the force. A curfew for teen-agers is to be enforced beginning Friday.

As of early Sunday, police had reports of 93 homicides in the district so far this year. A record 372 murders took place here in 1988, up 65% from the 1987 homicide rate. The vast majority of killings in Washington stem from disputes over drugs or gang battles for turf.


In 1988, Washington had the highest murder rate among the nation’s major urban areas--59.4 killings for each 100,000 residents. Detroit, which had the highest murder rate in the previous three years, was second with a rate of 58 per 100,000 population. Dallas was a distant third, with a rate of 36.5.