(NewsNation) — The murder clearance rate hit an all-time low in 2020, and data analyzed by a nonprofit shows that trend continued last year.
In 2021, only 51% of homicides were solved, according to FBI statistics analyzed by the Murder Accountability Project. The country is seeing a continued decline in cleared cases compared to previous decades when the rate was closer to 70%.
A case is defined as “cleared” when an arrest is made or there is an “exception,” such as a suspected killer being dead or incarcerated for another crime.
Thomas Hargrove, founder of the Murder Accountability Project, suggested Monday on NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” that the reason for the low clearance rate is simple: there aren’t enough people to solve them.
“We have given inadequate resources to properly fund local police departments. There are not enough homicide detectives, not enough trained detectives, not enough forensic technicians to go to crime scenes, not enough laboratory capacities,” Hargrove said. “We simply lack the necessary resources to properly investigate major crimes.”
The problem is exacerbated when broken down by demographics.
A CBS News analysis of the FBI data published last year found that murders of white victims were about 30% more likely to be solved than in cases with Hispanic victims, and about 50% more than when the victims were Black.
“There is a growing disconnect in many major cities between police and the community they serve, especially in the African American communities in the aftermath of events like the murder of George Floyd,” Hargrove said. “That disconnect causes people not to trust police, to regard law enforcement to be illegitimate and not to cooperate with investigations.”
John Skaggs, a retired homicide detective for the Los Angeles Police Department, told The Guardian a lack of experienced personnel is a contributing factor.
“You hear every cop saying, ‘We can’t do better because they don’t cooperate,'” Skaggs said, “But these young cops don’t know how to talk to people and get them to cooperate.”
Rising crime rates have become a central focus in major metropolitan areas including New York City, Philadelphia and Chicago. The U.S. murder rate jumped by 30% from 2019 to 2020, an increase attributed to a variety of factors, including the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We’re in a war when you think of homicide as a conflict, and we don’t have enough boots on the ground,” Hargrove said. “The problem is most cities are broke. Tax bases have not kept up with the demand for services, and so there’s been the slow starvation of law enforcement.”