In Boston, Homicides Are Up, Clearance Rate Down


Seven years after Boston Mayor Thomas Menino earned international acclaim for dramatically reducing violent crime in Boston, homicides are on the rise, and police are struggling to bring criminals to justice, reports the Boston Globe. Although violent crime remains well below the levels of a decade ago there are underlying problems in public safety that both the police and neighborhood leaders acknowledge. Basic police services have been markedly reduced since the late 1990s as labor costs have surged. The number of homicides has roughly doubled since 1999. A thinned patrol force and a diminished pool of detectives arrest or identify suspects in fewer than a quarter of serious crimes reported in the city.

Boston police take longer to respond to 911 calls than they did five years ago. As a result, residents of neighborhoods beset with crime are feeling endangered, say some community leaders. The clearance rate for homicides, the percentage of cases in which police arrest or identify a suspect, has plunged since the mid-1990s. Between 1994 and 2003, the overall homicide clearance rate was 53 percent. Last year, police cleared only 28 percent. The homicide clearance rate was 35 percent for the first seven months of this year. During the same period, only 23 percent of all major crimes — which includes rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larceny, and motor vehicle theft — were cleared. In Menino’s 12th year in office, Boston’s violent crime rate remains far lower than that of many major A cities. Boston has not shared the continued dramatic reductions in violent crime seen in New York, Baltimore, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.


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