Twenty of Boston’s 29 homicides this year remain unsolved, says the Boston Globe. That continues a trend from last year, when police failed to solve two-thirds of homicides. The clearance rate — defined as solving a case by making an arrest, issuing a warrant, or identifying a suspect — was 59 percent in 2003 and 53 percent overall from 1994 through 2003, before plummeting to 34 percent last year. The national average for clearing homicides was above 60 percent last year. At the midpoint of this year, Boston’s clearance rate was 31 percent.
Police and victims’ relatives blame an overwhelmed homicide unit and uncooperative witnesses for the low clearance rate. Police Superintendent Paul Joyce said that three homicide detectives have been added this year, bringing staffing to 21. Joyce blamed unsolved cases partly on witnesses who are intimidated or who do not cooperate. “It’s a real challenge to us,” he said. “In the vast majority of cases we know that what happened in the homicide does rest in the neighborhood.” An antigang violence bill in a state Senate committee includes $750,000 for witness protection.