About one third of all murders in the US go unsolved, according to a segment Monday morning on NPR.
Today, the national “clearance rate” for murders, which means the case ends in an arrest, is 64.1%. Five decades ago, it was above 90%.
This statistic means that 200,000 murders have gone unsolved since 1960, NPR noted.
NPR identified some potential causes for the depressing decline:
- Standards for charging a suspect are higher now, maybe even too high, Vernon Gerberth, a retired “murder cop” for the NYPD told NPR.
- People distrust the police and are less willing to help with cases, he said. Since the 1980s, police have complained about a growing “no-snitch” culture, especially in minority communities.
- Many unsolved cases also happen in these communities, making the people who live there more distrustful of police and less willing to cooperate.
- The high crime rates in the ’80s shifted the focus to preventing, instead of solving, crimes.
- Homicide investigations are expensive. Poor, minority communities, like Detroit, which has one of the highest murder rates in the country, usually can’t afford to lower investigators’ case loads.
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