Former Scripps-Howard journalist Thomas Hargrove has founded the Murder Accountability Project and murderdata.org to raise public awareness of the problem of unsolved homicides and to make FBI murder data more easily available to police, journalists and the general public, Hargrove tells The Marshall Project. Hargrove is also trying improve the quality of reporting by police, using Freedom of Information laws to obtain important information that many police departments decline to give the FBI in the voluntary Uniform Crime Report and Supplementary Homicide Report.
With clearance rates in the mid 60-percent range in recent years, that means that “every year, more than 5,000 killers get away and are still walking the streets. In Canada, by contrast, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police report that about 90 percent of the 600 to 700 murders committed each year are cleared through arrest.” Hargrove says declining homicide clearance rates are “a failure of leadership by local police and by the politicians over them. When mayors and other elected officials make murder clearance a priority, as did the mayor of Philadelphia a few years ago, the clearance rate will improve significantly.” He adds that, “If readers look at the “clearance rate” charts at our website, they will find hundreds of police departments that are doing a stellar job solving murders.”