D.C. Boosts Homicide Clearance Rate by Including Previous Years


Washington, D.C., Police Chief Cathy Lanier touts the city's astronomically high homicide closure rate — 94 percent for 2011 — but the Washington Post calls the figure “a statistical mishmash.” D.C. had 108 homicides last year; a 94 percent closure rate would mean that detectives solved 102. But only 62 were solved as of year’s end, for a true closure rate of 57 percent.

Police achieved the high closure rate last year by including about 40 cases from other years that were closed in 2011. The cases date from 1989, records show. The pattern was first reported by the Web site homicidewatchdc.org. Lanier said the department followed FBI Uniform Crime Reporting guidelines. But James Trainum, a longtime D.C. homicide detective, said, “They're fostering the false perception that they've accomplished something when actually what they're doing is fudging their numbers.” David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, said it is “very confusing” to combine homicides from more than one year.

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