Columbus Nears Homicide Record; Clearances Down

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After three people were fatally shot in Columbus over the weekend in separate incidents, bringing the city closer to a record-breaking number of homicides, Police Chief Kim Jacobs issued a call for action and a call for peace, reports the Columbus Dispatch. “The call to action is to really engage our community in what we can do to solve some of these homicides, to solve some of the violence issues,” Jacobs said. “… the police are not going to be able to solve this on our own. We are being taxed, as you can imagine.” Within an hour of her addressing reporters, a man was shot and killed, bringing the total to 130 homicides this year, close to the record of 139 in 1991.

The city’s clearance rate for homicides is well below the national average. Nationally, FBI data shows most departments cleared nearly 60 percent of cases last year. In Columbus, police had made arrests in 42 cases and closed six more through “exceptional clearance” as of 10 p.m. Monday. Those are cases, for example, if a killing is ruled self-defense or if the suspect is killed. That results in a 37 percent clearance rate so far this year. It’s unclear why the city’s clearance rate has dropped. Homicide detectives normally are listed as the primary detectives on about three cases per year. The division is looking at using detectives from the cold case unit to help with the caseload.Experts say not having enough detectives can lead to higher caseloads, longer hours and more cases going unsolved. Overtime for detectives working assault and homicide cases is up compared to the same time in 2017.

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