Chicago Leads US in Murders, Lacks Detectives to Solve Them

The city has a murder clearance rate of 46%, one of the lowest in the US
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 24, 2016 4:47 PM CDT
Murders Up, Detectives Down in Troubled Chicago
Police work the scene where a man was fatally shot in the chest in Chicago's Washington Park neighborhood in May.   (E. Jason Wambsgans /Chicago Tribune via AP File) /Chicago Tribune via AP)

The situation in Chicago looks dire. According to a Reuters report, the murder rate in America's third-largest city is skyrocketing while the number of detectives tasked with solving those homicides is dropping. Chicago is on pace to have more homicides this year than in any year since 1997. In 2015, the Chicago Police Department had a 46% clearance rate for murders, leaving hundreds of homicides unsolved. It's one of the lowest clearance rates in the country, where the average is 68%. Meanwhile, the number of detectives on the force has gone from 1,252 in 2008 to 922. Only 8% of Chicago's police force is detectives compared to 15% in New York City and Los Angeles.

One recently retired detective in Chicago, which has more homicides than any other US city, tells Reuters you'd be working one homicide only to get assigned one or two more the next day. "You get so many cases you could not do an honest investigation on three-quarters of them," he says. Part of the problem is budgetary; another part is a focus on increasing street patrol officers. And while Chicago officials are stumped, Donald Trump believes he has the solution, the Chicago Tribune reports. Trump said Monday that the key to solving Chicago's problem, according to the "very top police" he spoke to, is law enforcement "being very much tougher." Read the full Reuters piece here. (More Chicago stories.)

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