The Washington Post published a very strong feature today mapping unsolved murders in 50 of the biggest cities in the country. Reporters pulled data using information from individual police departments as well as from other public records, “including death certificates, court records and medical examiner reports.”
In Dallas, from 2007 to 2017, the Post tracked 1,567 homicides, a time period during which both “the number of homicides and the arrest rate decreased.” About 52 percent have resulted in an arrest, a little better than the average arrest rate across all cities of 49 percent. (Chicago is at the low end, with fewer than 30 percent of murders getting solved, while Richmond is high at more than 70 percent.) Another 78 cases here were cleared without an arrest, which typically means that police had a strong suspect, but could not make an arrest, “for example, if the suspect has died.” The Post did not count mass shootings, or the killing of five officers in downtown Dallas in 2016.
The paper mapped in Dallas neighborhoods with especially low arrest rates for murders, marked in orange, and those areas with high arrest rates, marked in blue. The highlighted, brighter areas are where there are higher concentrations of homicides. Here’s a screenshot, but you can dive in yourself.
What’s behind the low arrest rates seen across the country? From the story:
Police blame the failure to solve homicides in these places on insufficient resources and poor relationships with residents, especially in areas that grapple with drug and gang activity where potential witnesses fear retaliation. But families of those killed, and even some officers, say the fault rests with apathetic police departments. All agree that the unsolved killings perpetuate cycles of violence in low-arrest areas.
Detectives said they cannot solve homicides without community cooperation, which makes it almost impossible to close cases in areas where residents already distrust police. As a result, distrust deepens and killers remain on the street with no deterrent.