“I believe in justice,” reads today’s top comment on the “community-driven reporting project” Homicide Watch D.C. The comment, featured prominently on the front page of the site, comes from a woman whose mother is one of the many homicide victims found each year in Washington D.C. Those four words are especially poignant, and speak to the thesis of the entire Homicide Watch project: giving a voice to the families of victims whose murders may otherwise go unreported and unsolved.
Started in September 2010 by husband and wife duo Laura Amico, a long-time crime reporter, and Chris Amico, a journalist and developer for NPR, the site serves as an incredibly comprehensive database of homicides in the D.C. area. Victims and suspects are neatly organized into an easily-searchable list, and each victim has their own dedicated page where their families can leave memorials in the form of comments. Each victim page comes with a photo and biographical information, a map showing where their murder took place, and the names and badge numbers of the detectives assigned to the case. The document library holds hundreds of primary source court records and documents. According to The Atlantic, Homicide Watch D.C. draws more than 15,000 visitors a month to the site.
The Amicos have recently launched a site redesign that they hope will start to spearhead an effort to expand the site into other cities across the country. So far, the site seems as much an informative database as it is a cathartic landing space for victims’ families to record their memorials. With a significant amount of bootstrapping, the Amicos have created software for homicide data that could no doubt be tremendously helpful for homicide reporters. As their tagline reads, “Mark every death. Remember every victim. Follow every case.”
To learn more about Homicide Watch D.C., check out today’s article in The Atlantic.