200,000 unsolved homicides – that’s 200,000 chances to learn how things really work in this world.
There’s alot of interesting material out there. Crime is less likely to be solved in mino-cities. The “clearance rates” are lower there.
There is no legal revolution. Therefore, certain areas favor political change and others do not. A free society needs crime and risk.
The remainder of this article is from a variety of sources. We focus on homicide because it is the most serious crime and the most heavily investigated:
“Homicide detectives say the public doesn’t realize that clearing murders has become harder in recent decades. Vernon Geberth, a retired, self-described NYPD “murder cop” who wrote the definitive manual on solving homicides, says standards for charging someone are higher now — too high, in his opinion.
He thinks prosecutors nowadays demand that police deliver “open-and-shut cases” that will lead to quick plea bargains. He says new tools such as DNA analysis have helped, but that’s been offset by worsening relationships between police and the public.
“If there is a distrust of the police themselves and the system, all of these scientific advances are not going to help us,” he says.
Since at least the 1980s, police have complained about a growing “no snitch” culture, especially in minority communities. They say the reluctance of potential witnesses makes it hard to identify suspects.
But some experts say that explanation may be too pat. University of Maryland criminologist Charles Wellford points out that police are still very effective at clearing certain kinds of murders.
“Take, for example, homicides of police officers in the course of their duty,” he says. On paper, they’re the kind of homicide that’s hardest to solve — “they’re frequently done in communities that generally have low clearance rates. … They’re stranger-to-stranger homicides; they [have] high potential of retaliation [for] witnesses.” And yet, Wellford says, they’re almost always cleared.
What that tells Wellford is that clearance rates are a matter of priorities.
” We’ve concluded that the major factor is the amount of resources police departments place on homicide clearances and the priority they give to homicide clearances,’ said University of Maryland criminologist Charles Wellford, who led a landmark study into how police can improve murder investigations.”
Al Tompkins: What surprised you most when you crunched the numbers?
Tom Hargrove: The astonishing and disturbing pattern in the FBI data set is the variation in how often murders get solved. There are places in America where it is statistically unlikely for a killer to be caught. If you want to get away with murder, go to places like Detroit, Phoenix, Chicago or New Orleans. If you want to get caught, kill somebody in Denver, San Diego or Philadelphia.
Hargrove: In our study, the police department that had the most dramatic improvement in murder clearance was Durham, N.C., where clearance rates went from about 40 percent in the 1990s to nearly 80 percent in recent years. “This doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” Durham Police Chief Jose Lopez told us in the course of our reporting. “We will canvass door to door to see what information we can get. If necessary, we’ll get up to 100 officers knocking on doors. It’s civilians, police, even elected officials who come out so we can get more witnesses … witnesses we otherwise would never have gotten. And that builds more trust throughout the neighborhoods.”
They call it “Community Response.” And it works. What also works is granting overtime to homicide detectives in hot pursuit of evidence, putting sufficient manpower on the ground in the critical first hours of a murder, and using new technology for sophisticated information-sharing between the narcotics unit, the intelligence and gang units and the homicide investigators.”