The New York Police Department has won great praise for bringing crime down to historic lows. Lost amid the fanfare, says the New York Daily News, is that 1,500 murders have gone unsolved over the last decade. The homicide tally last year dipped to 334, the lowest since police started keeping track in the 1960s. Given the decrease, some argue the NYPD should be using this opportunity to get more killers off the streets. “There are thousands of murderers walking around who haven't been brought to justice,” said Andy Rosenzweig, a former NYPD lieutenant and ex-investigator for the Manhattan district attorney. “It's horrifying.”
The Daily News reviewed the status of last year's homicides, detective staffing at each precinct and borough command over two decades. It also looked at trends in the city's clearance rate — the number of arrests made in homicide cases during a 12-month period, as a percentage of homicides reported during that time. As homicides plummeted in the 1990s and activity on the cold case squad was at an all-time high, the clearance rate shot up to over 80 percent in the final years of the decade. Then it started to drop again, and has averaged around 70 percent. Michael Palladino of the Detectives Endowment Association said 3,000 seasoned detectives retired in the two years after Sept. 11, 2011. Another 800 were shifted to the then-new counterterrorism unit, and precinct-level detectives who used to focus only on major felonies found themselves investigating newly prevalent crimes like identity theft and lower-level offenses like petty larceny.