Homicide solve rates have fallen amid the coronavirus pandemic due to a spike in homicides and COVID-related issues, including complications with face-to-face interviews and masked suspects eluding detectives, reports The Wall Street Journal.
The number of homicides has skyrocketed in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Houston, Washington, D.C., Dallas, Las Vegas, Phoenix, and Miami-Dade County. In eight of those cities, the percentage of murders "cleared," a police measure for crime-solving, dropped from 2019 to 2020.
Las Vegas and Phoenix are the exception, with 94% and 71.8% of cases in 2020 solved compared with 93% and 66%, respectively.
A murder is "cleared," or solved, when police have made an arrest for a homicide. A case can also be "exceptionally cleared" when police identify a suspect but do not make an arrest for some reason.
Some police departments are stretched too thin.
"The volume [of cases] stresses our resources," Cpt. Roger Spurgeon, the homicide branch commander for Indianapolis Metro Police Department, told the Indy Star. "We are stretched pretty thin as far as our ability to handle that volume. It's difficult to do."
Nathan Kouri, who oversees the homicide detectives in Los Angeles' Southeast Division, told the Journal a spike in murders after restrictions lifted have inundated the department.
"That's going to take a huge toll," Det. Kouri told the Star. "It takes time for these investigations to marinate."
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