Thirty-two homicides have been committed in Kansas City thus far this year, compared to 20 this time last year. At this time in 2009, we had experienced 31 homicides, ending that year with 110 homicides. The Department of Justice considers a homicide case to be cleared when “at least one person is arrested, charged with the commission of the crime of the offense, and turned over to the court for prosecution.” The national average clearance rate is approximately 65 percent. I anticipate a higher than average end-of-year 2012 homicide clearance rate due to increased community cooperation and dedicated members of the police department. I’d be remiss if I failed to mention the outstanding contribution of our Regional Crime Lab. The use of forensic technology in solving homicide cases will undoubtedly continue to prove beneficial to our cause.
While the number of homicides year-to-date have increased, so has the clearance rate. So far this year, 29 percent of this year’s homicides have been cleared, and the clearance rate total includes 9 (46%) homicides that have been cleared from 2011 for a total clearance rate of 75 percent. Most jurisdictions report clearance rates based on the number of homicide cases cleared in a single calendar year regardless of what year the homicide occurred. Our clearance rate of 75 percent is based on the nationally recognized standard reporting of clearance rates. I note that the 75 percent clearance rate is being reporting according to best practices that are nationally recognized, however, I don’t want to play the numbers game. We’re making progress, but I’m not satisfied with our total numbers. Regardless of the method the numbers are presented with, we need to do more as a community to not only solve homicides, but to prevent homicides. We cannot concede to the violence, nor can we become complacent with regard to our numbers. There is much more work to be done by all!
Five current-year homicide case files and five previous year homicide case files are currently at the prosecutor’s office for review. These ten cases are not included in our total number of clearances.
You can see the entire statistical breakdown of victims and witnesses on the Daily Homicide Analysis on our web site. In the vast majority of these cases, the victims and suspects are known to each other. Thirteen of this year’s homicides have occurred in a house, apartment, or motel. Another 13 have occurred on a public street or sidewalk or in or just outside a business or night club. Six of the homicides have occurred in a car. Nearly half – or 47 percent – of them have taken place inside a hot spot area. Hot spots are parts of the city where we have dedicated extra resources to combat violent crime.
The majority of our 2012 homicide cases are solvable, and we expect to solve them thanks to cooperation from many segments of our community. Measures to increase internal and external communication as well as increased presence in “hot spots” are paying dividends. Witnesses are coming forward, relatives of victims and suspects are getting involved, and police officers are knocking on doors to introduce themselves. Just recently, a family member of a suspect aided in the identification and arrest of the suspect after the suspect committed a homicide. On several occasions, as I got out of my car at homicide scenes, I was approached by community members and provided details about the homicide. I could give many more examples of the community working together to rid our community of those who choose to disrupt our way of life. We must continue to work together to prevent the senseless killings!
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