Washington, D.C., homicides cost taxpayers $1.53 million per deadly shooting last year, amounting to an estimated $1 billion overall price tag for gun violence in the nation’s capital in 2021, a recent study shows.
A new report titled "The Cost of Gun Violence" conservatively estimated that each deadly shooting in Washington, D.C., last year cost taxpayers $1.53 million per homicide involving one suspect based solely on the direct costs like hospital services, policing, prosecution, and incarceration.
That estimate more than doubled to $3.1 million per homicide involving two suspects. Each shooting that did not involve a fatality cost taxpayers about $783,000 per incident involving one suspect. The estimate per injury shooting with two suspects was about $1.6 million.
Based on very conservative figures, the analysis estimates that in 2021 alone, gun violence in D.C. cost taxpayers almost $1 billion. The analysis accounts for the price tag of police response, crime scene clean-up, fire/EMS response, hospital expenses for trauma center treatment or emergency surgery.
For each homicide, an estimated $201,960 goes to criminal justice expenses, including the police investigation, district attorney and public defender and the court process. The costliest factor is incarceration, costing an estimated $1,071,847 per homicide with one suspect last year.
In 2021, there were 226 homicides reported in Washington, D.C., which was the highest annual murder count seen in the nation’s capital in nearly 20 years. Police statistics show homicides are currently down 10% compared to the same time last year, but overall violent crime is up 25%.
The report was funded by the D.C.-based foundation Peace For DC, which named Lashonia Thompson-El as executive director last month. She formerly worked at the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia, where she served as Co-Chief of the Violence Reduction Unit.
According to its website, the foundation is "dedicated to funding evidence-based strategies that can stop murders before they happen."
Roger Marmet, the founder of Peace for DC whose 22-year-old son was killed in 2018 by a stray bullet, advocated for more investments into community efforts, such as proactive violence intervention efforts. He also argued for better documentation, so policymakers can respond more appropriately.
"What drives me crazy is that the situation has gotten even worse since my son was killed," he told Fox 5 DC. "It looks like a strategy and data informs strategy, so that’s why we funded this research. You know, You can’t fly blind. You can’t just try to do things every day and hold press conferences a couple of times a week announcing a new program. You need to step back and plan this out."
Last month, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser unveiled the "People of Promise Initiative" intended to target 200 individuals "at risk of being involved with gun violence" to connect them with community services. The initiative seemed to support the mayor and the police commissioner’s argument that most violence crime that happens in D.C. is committed by a small group of offenders.
Advisory neighborhood commissioners who spoke with Fox 5 say residents in communities most affected by gun violence want more police and resources for young people and also questioned why more crime such as shootings and carjackings are not being prosecuted.