Since the federal government declared its war on drugs several decades ago the clearance rate of homicides throughout the country has steadily declined.
Data available from the Bureau of Justice Statistics (based on the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports) show that the percentage of homicides “solved” nationwide decreased from 72% in 1980 to 64% in 2008.
Chicago Magazine reports that in 2012 the clearance rate in that city was only 26%, the lowest in two decades. The Philadelphia clearance rate for homicides committed in 2013 was 40%.
A comprehensive Channel 12 Eyewitness News report on Wednesday analyzed the situation in Providence — “43% of homicides unsolved since 2000″ — and asked Public Safety Commissioner Steven Paré to comment.
In Providence, Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare said finding witnesses willing to talk to the police can be difficult, a street policy most urban departments around the country are forced to contend with.
Does this really come as a surprise to anyone? For decades the only contact many urban populations have had with the cops is the endless cycle of undercover drug arrests and raids that have destroyed families and gutted the neighborhoods. The relationship has been almost entirely adversarial for years. So while we fill the prisons with nonviolent drug offenders, the murderers remain at large. How does this enhance public safety for any of us?
(Seen here is the East Side residence where the body of Dr. Hani Zaki was discovered in April of 2001; he had been shot. This high-profile “society” victim is not typical, and somewhat irrelevant to the above discussion, but frankly, this address seemed safer to photograph. The other addresses on the unsolved list are from parts of the city where the illegal drug trade has led to turf wars, feuds, and careless drive-by’s.)