How Detroit Police Work To Boost Homicide Clearance Rate

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Detroit police are in a race with one of the nation’s worst homicide rates, and it’s hard not to fall behind, NPR reports. In 2012, Detroit barely cleared 1 murder in 10. The city was on the verge of bankruptcy then. They’re pushing the rate up now. One way to do that is to mine cold cases. Sgt. Mike Russell has one like that on his desk right now, from 1979. Under federal rules, police get credit for the clearance in the year they solve the murder, not the year the crime was committed.

A lot of departments have boosted their clearance rates this way. The downside is, once the department has solved the easier cold cases, they often see their rate sag again. So another thing they try is to make their homicide detectives experts on certain neighborhoods. Russell’s squad specializes in northwestern Detroit. You can see why homicide eats up so many man hours. There are at least 10 officers heading out on one search, and it’s not even considered a dangerous one because the suspects are already in custody. The detectives call this a nice-guy entry because, well, they plan to knock.

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