Why Columbus Murder Solution Rate is Down; Local Trust in Police A Factor


Fewer than half the homicides in Columbus were solved last year, says the Columbus Dispatch. That's down compared with the previous four years, when police cleared 54 percent of the 392 homicides within the city's borders, a rate that mirrored numbers across the country for similar-size cities. Solving 42 of 90 homicides last year in Columbus represented a 47 percent clearance rate, the lowest since Columbus saw 108 people killed — and 45 percent of the cases cleared — in 2008.

Whether a case is solved depends on a variety of factors, from where the homicide occurs to what kind of weapon is used. The success or failure in solving a case does not necessarily reflect on the detective or squad working it, experts say. A shift can have a run of cases that are quickly resolved — such as a murder-suicide or a case of self defense — while another detective or squad is left with cases that are less clear-cut, such as a drive-by shooting or a body that went undiscovered for weeks. Richard Lundman, an Ohio State University sociologist who studies homicide, said there are fewer arrests in killings in predominately black neighborhoods, where there's less trust and cooperation with police. And the circumstances of some cases just make them more difficult to solve. “It does not have anything to do with how hard homicide detectives work particular murders,” Lundman said. “It has to do with the amount of cooperation and information they get.”

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