Murder Clearance Rate Down Again in Chicago

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Chicago police solved fewer than one in six homicides in the first half of 2018, continuing a troubling decline in the number of perpetrators brought to justice in one of the nation’s most violent cities, reports USA Today. Chicago’s homicide clearance rate – the percentage of cases in which police arrest or identify a suspect – fell from 17.1 in 2017 to 15.4 during the first six months of 2018. If that rate holds through the end of the year, it would be the sixth consecutive annual decline. Police in the third-largest city are having even less success solving nonfatal shootings, according to data obtained in a Freedom of Information Act request. Police cleared 50 of 900 nonfatal shooting incidents in the first half of 2018, a rate of 5.6 percent.

That puts them on pace to solve fewer than 9 percent of nonfatal shooting incidents for the fourth year in a row. Officials in the department of 13,500 sworn officers say the clearance rate reflects an alarming dynamic in violent neighborhoods of Chicago’s West and South sides: Shooting victims often forego cooperation with authorities to retaliate on their own. Deputy Chief Brendan Deenihan, who heads the police detective division, says victims and offenders often are “interchangeable.” “These are guys who are shooting back and forth at each other on a consistent basis,” Deenihan said. “They’re not afraid to go to court and testify. They just want to get even with the people who shot at them.” The national clearance rate for homicides fell to 59.4 percent in 2016, the lowest since the FBI began tracking it in 1965. In Indianapolis, where the murder rate has surged, the police command staff asked outside experts to help with the growing number of unsolved homicide cases.

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