Murder Arrest Rates Lower When Victim is Black

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Over 10 years, police in 52 large cities have failed to make an arrest in nearly 26,000 killings. In more than 18,600 of those cases, the victim was black, the Washington Post reports. Black victims, who accounted for most homicides, were the least likely of any racial group to have their cases result in an arrest. While police arrested someone in 63 percent of the killings of whites, they did so in just 47 percent of those with black victims. The failure to solve black murders deepens distrust of police, making blacks less likely to cooperate in investigations, leading to fewer arrests. Criminals are emboldened and residents’ fears rise.

Four cities — Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit and Philadelphia — accounted for more than 7,300 of the black murders with no arrests. Even smaller majority-white cities have amassed large rosters of such in the past decade: 422 in Columbus; 277 in Buffalo; 183 in Nashville; and 144 in Omaha. Police said they work just as hard to solve black murders but that investigations are often hampered by reluctant witnesses. No major city had a wider gap in arrest rates for white and black victims than Boston, where the killings of white residents are solved at twice the rate of black victims. “We don’t care what color you are,” said departing Boston Police Commissioner William Evans, who is being replaced by a black man. “Sometimes, because a case goes unsolved, people get the perception that we forget about their loved ones . . . We never forget about them.” Detroit Chief James Craig said, “Let’s face it, when you talk about murder in our urban communities — black and brown, where gang and group violence is prevalent — you got that retaliation piece, and those are the most challenging kind of homicides to investigate.” Detroit’s arrest rate was 12 percentage points higher for white victims than for blacks.

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