As violent crime continues to spike across the country, one statistic that has risen to record highs as a result is the rate of unsolved murders.
According to the state-funded NPR, the rate at which murders are being solved dropped below 50 percent in 2020, which marks a record low. In such cities as Chicago, the number of murder cases that lead to at least one arrest has dropped to the mid-30 percent range.
“We saw a sharp drop in the national clearance rate in 2020,” said Philip Cook, a public policy researcher and professor emeritus with Duke University and the University of Chicago Urban Labs. “It reached close to 50% at that time nationwide, which was the lowest ever recorded by the FBI. And it hasn’t come up that much since then.”
When asked for possible reasons for the decline in solved murders, Cook pointed the finger at communities that have become increasingly skeptical of the police, such as the African-American community in the aftermath of the race riots of 2020. Such groups, Cook says, end up committing a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy by believing the police are incompetent and won’t be able to solve a case, and thus refuse to cooperate with the police by providing testimony or evidence; this, in turn, leads to the police being incapable of solving a crime, which fuels further skepticism.
“Communities that are especially impacted by gun violence believe that the police are ineffective or indifferent,” Cook explained. “And as a result, they’re less willing to cooperate and provide information the police need to have successful investigations. It is undermining whatever trust there is in the police. And it’s a vicious circle.”
While the FBI defines a murder as “cleared” only after a suspect has been identified and arrested, police departments in larger cities plagued with crime, such as Chicago, have used semantics and other means to artificially boost their rate of “solved” murders, such as the “exceptional means” clause; “exceptional means” refers to cases where a suspect is either dead, a fugitive who cannot be extradited, or a case where prosecutors refuse to press charges.
Suggestions that have been made for improving the rate of solved murders is for cities to invest even more in police work, such as homicide investigations, DNA testing, crime labs, training, and computer modeling systems. But such a suggestion runs counter to a prevailing narrative among left-wing mayors and governors who, in recent years, have voiced their support for “defunding the police,” a stance that was mainstreamed by the race riots in 2020 carried out by Black Lives Matter, a far-left, black nationalist domestic terrorist organization.