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Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Why are KC police having a harder time closing homicide cases?


As Christine Vendel reported over the weekend, Kansas City's homicide clearance rate has dropped this year. The overall rate is 56 percent, but that includes homicides from past years solved in 2010. If you consider only 2010 homicides, the clearance rate is about 41 percent. (The number of homicides is actually a little below the last couple of years.)

It's a good article, but two things really struck me as interesting ...

1. KCPD is thinking about restructuring how its homicide unit operates because detectives can get overwhelmed by the workload.

Day- and night-shift detectives investigate all deaths, including natural, accidental and suicidal. But if they come across a homicide without a known suspect, they call in murder squad detectives, who focus on “whodunit” homicides.

The concept works well when killings are spaced out. But when they occur on the same day or in consecutive days, detectives can be overwhelmed and understaffed.

2. Another big reason for a lower clearance rate is the fact that more killings involve drugs, gangs or robberies -- cases where there's no obvious tie between the victim and the murderer. (Compared to, say, domestic-violence homicides.)


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