written by: DEA Washington Division, Public Information Office
Incidents of violent crime have remained consistently high across the country this past year, after a sharp increase during the first waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As the premier agency for enforcing drug laws and tracking drug-related crime trends, DEA-Washington Division sees most of this violent crime in our area of responsibility as directly linked to the issue of drug trafficking.
With homicide rates and violent crimes involving firearms increasing to a disturbing high (for example, in Washington D.C. over 200 murders were recorded last year, for the first time in decades), Jarod Forget, Special Agent in Charge (SAC) of the DEA Washington Division, and area Assistant Special Agent in Charge (ASAC) Michael Rothermund, knew they must help spearhead the fight against this alarming trend in the National Capital Region.
In 2021, Washington, D.C. homicide rates reached a 17-year peak, mirroring a nationwide trend in FBI crime data. U.S. homicide rates increased by nearly 30 percent from the previous year, despite the national rate of violent crimes decreasing by 0.5 percent in the same period. Moreover, in D.C., nearly 40 percent of gunfire and the majority of the drug problem seen in the city is concentrated within 2 percent of all city blocks, primarily within Wards 7 and 8.
Beyond this concentration of violent crime, gunfire, and drug trafficking, these same areas also experience the most disparate impact from gun violence. Despite survival rates from gun violence increasing, death rates associated with gun violence are reported at over 12 times higher for minority residents in the District.
“Violent crime is a major problem in our neighborhoods across the District of Columbia,” SAC Forget explains. “For many years, our Division has worked together with our local law enforcement partners to reduce drug-related violent crime in our communities. However, this year’s plan takes those efforts to a whole new level of effectiveness and impact for our area residents.”
“We must take a stand against this drug-related violent crime in our area. Because one life lost to such senseless crime is one too many.” --SAC Jarod Forget
A New Approach to Target the Problem
Beyond combined enforcement, community outreach, and violent crime prevention initiatives the DEA has implemented in the past year, the DEA Washington Division is taking a new and pointed approach to their work in the District of Columbia.
DEA Washington Division SAC Forget and ASAC Rothermund have also been working behind the scenes, over the past year to form stronger and more formal partnerships and strategic aims with prosecutors, city officials, local law enforcement agencies, federal partners, and resource providers to begin 2022.
Building partnership with the D.C. Mayor’s Office, the Metropolitan Police Department, and our area federal partners like the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the District of Columbia, SAC Forget was able to build brand new programs to target this issue, across the city.
Rolling Out Solutions
Deployment strategies will be more targeted than in years prior. Agents, officers, and analysts are now focusing on areas where they know violence is occurring. Similarly, the focus is on the source organizations known to be furthering these crimes, and the methods and means they are using to cause this violence. Enforcement efforts are able to be more efficient and impactful, based on improved, shared intelligence gathering and data collection.
SAC Forget’s plan aims investigation and enforcement efforts at the most violent drug trafficking organizations and individuals affecting the District of Columbia. His strategy is carefully formed to create the most positive impact on safety and bettering some of the hardest hit communities across the D.C. metro area.
"Focusing investigations and enforcement efforts on the most violent and egregious criminals and drug trafficking organizations who are bringing violent crime into area neighborhoods, allows for more efficient investigations, better prosecutions, and more positive impacts for the entire community," said SAC Forget.
More to Come
These new strategies have expanded to brand new investigative and enforcement abilities for the area and have already led to more drugs and guns being taken off D.C. area streets by the DEA, than in years prior. However, this work is nowhere near completed.
Throughout 2022, DEA Washington plans to roll out a number of new, innovative programs and efforts to target the issue of violent crime across the city. A holistic approach to the issue not only involves responding to and combating violent crime with new enforcement strategies, it includes major efforts to build trust in and around our area communities, and building partnerships to connect people to other resources they need.
The next chapter of DEA Washington’s plan outlines what DEA Washington Division is doing to implement a more holistic and community-centered approach to the violent crime problem in D.C.
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