Chicago police are solving less than one in four murder investigations

The Chicago Cubs victory in the World Series finally gave the Windy City something to celebrate and they certainly needed it. The rest of the news has been pretty dismal, and I’m not just talking about the Bears’ 2-6 record. Just this week we talked about the city breaking a long standing record for murders and currently being on track to pass the 700 mark in the body count. That’s more than enough to keep any city’s homicide unit busy, but the Chicago cops simply aren’t keeping up with the caseload. As yet another report from the Washington Post shows, the Chicago PD has a clearance rate on murder cases which is simply dismal compared to earlier days.

The city is on pace to have one of its deadliest years in two decades, and some residents blame police for perpetuating the violence by leaving killers on the streets.

Last year, Chicago police cleared homicides at one-third the rate they did 25 years ago — a time when they faced twice as many killings, according to a Washington Post analysis of police data obtained through a public records request.

The department has gone from having one of the best clearance rates nationwide to one of the worst…

In 1991, Chicago police solved about 80 percent of all homicides in the city, compared with about 62 percent by police nationwide, according to data from the FBI and Chicago police. Since then, the national rate has remained fairly constant, but Chicago’s dropped below 26 percent last year, the worst clearance rate for police in any large city in the country, The Post analysis shows.

The biggest factor contributing to the low clearance rate is identified by the police in response to this investigation. It’s the gangs, but the problem extends beyond the violent crimes they commit. People are afraid of retribution if they assist the cops (snitches get stitches) so they have a hard time developing leads and getting people to testify. Without that sort of support from the community the job of law enforcement officials becomes exponentially harder. And the residents who are complaining make a valid point when they say that the death toll isn’t likely to drop if you can’t get the actual killers off the streets.

But not all of the blame can be assigned to outside factors. One woman who lost her son to a gang shooting was interviewed by the Post and she had a doubly tragic story to tell. She supposedly went around the neighborhood talking to people who knew things about her son’s murder, collecting names and contact information. She tracked down social media posts from people who claimed to either have been involved in the killing or knew about it. She even located a business owner with a security camera which may have footage of the actual crime.

When she went to the police with all of this information she was unable to get anyone to take her calls or talk to her despite multiple attempts. One can only imagine the frustration she’s experiencing on top of the grief over losing her child. What’s the explanation for this? Are the cops simply so completely swamped with homicides that they can’t find anyone to work her son’s case? Or are they deliberately blowing her off? No matter the cause, homicides are generally the highest priority for any police department and letting a fresh trail grow cold is an unacceptable situation.

Rahm Emanuel is promising to hire 1,000 new officers over the next two years, including 200 detectives. He may want to twist the arms of the city council to find the money and move that schedule up. The city’s residents are living in a war zone right now and not nearly enough is being done about it.