General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Are murderers that good, or is police work that bad?

Asked by elbanditoroso (22415points) February 16th, 2017

Article in today’s Atlanta paper link notes that there were 51 unsolved murders in Atlanta in 2016.

That seems high. Are murderers getting better and more effective at their trade? Or are police so overwhelmed that they can’t do a proper job of investigation?

Or are some murders destined never to be solved?

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30 Answers

Seek's avatar

CSI isn’t real life.

There’s no registry of gun striation patterns, most guns aren’t registered or are sold without having registration updated, and very few people have a camera on them at all times.

If the deceased’s family didn’t know the killer, it’s really unlikely they’ll be caught.

filmfann's avatar

The article states that there has been a large decrease in police employed over the last 3 years. It’s easy to say that is, at the very least, a contributor.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

In gang-infested neighborhoods, people are afraid to help the police out of fear of retribution from the criminals.

Two young girls were killed in separate shootings here in past few days, and distraught family members were on the radio, calling for an end to “snitches get stitches”.

Also, the police here have slacked off, because their feelings have been hurt by criticism of their shootings of unarmed people.

So here the problem is the criminal gangs and the police union acting like a criminal gang.

Seek's avatar

Hell, I know, personally, two instances where the killer was known by the family and it was ruled suicide. Another acquaintance was shot and killed in his own backyard and the only thing the cops have done was asked the neighbors if they saw a couple of Hispanic men in a van to call them.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Brace yourself. The rate of solved homicides nation wide has been dropping since the 60s when it was around 90%. I remember reading this a few years ago when the rate was down to 62%. It surprised me.

Darth_Algar's avatar

Police no longer give a shit. It use to be that police were members of their community. They lived in the neighborhoods they patrolled. They knew the people they interacted with day in and day out. Now police officers live an hour away from the neighborhoods they work in, don’t even bother to try to know the community, and maintain an “us vs them” mindset. If some kid in the ghetto shoots another kind in the ghetto then as far as the police are concerned who gives a fuck? Just another dead banger. Bag it, tag it and file it away.

ucme's avatar

Real issue has to your gun laws

kritiper's avatar

Nobody is getting better or worse. The technology helps solve crimes some but, otherwise, same deaths, different day/year. There are MANY unsolved murders from many years past.

Patty_Melt's avatar

In the same week here, a cop was shot, and a teen with no gang ties just riding with family in the car was shot at a busy intersection during daytime. Both died. The cop killer was arrested within hours. The kid stopped being mentioned on the news after about a week. Still haven’t caught that one.

Zaku's avatar

Watch an episode of CSI. Then watch and episode of The First 48 .

CSI is like “good thing the victim had an OnStar subscription… good thing we can trace all phone and Internet use to a real-time location on a 3D map… good thing tests of some dirt on a shoe can place the suspect at the scene in 10 minutes!”

The First 48 is a documentary, so it’s more like “anyone have any idea who the victim is, or anyone who saw anything? No. Anyone in the neighborhood willing to talk? No. Any real leads at all? No.”

flutherother's avatar

Chicago is much worse. There were 750 murder victims in Chicago in 2016 with the city tallying 275 more murders than the same time last year.

Nearly as unnerving as the number who have been killed in Chicago is how few of the assailants have been arrested.The department’s murder clearance rate — the calculation of cases that end with an arrest or identification of a suspect who can’t be apprehended — has hovered at or below 30% for the past three years. The national clearance rate stood at 61.5% last year, while Chicago’s clearance rate was 25.6% last year, according to data compiled by the Virginia-based Murder Accountability Project.

Chicago Police Department is taking on hundreds of additional officers to try to deal with the situation.

stanleybmanly's avatar

It’s just too easy to kill people nowadays, and it surprises me that no one saw it coming. It will certainly get worse.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

It’s just too easy to kill people nowadays

The murder rate in the US is half what it used to be. Violent crime rates have plummeted in recent decades.

We had a bad year in Chicago with 762 murders, but in the early 90s it was over 900 per year.

US Homicide Rate, 1970–2014
Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter per 100,000 people
1970 – 7.9
1971 – 8.6
1972 – 9.0
1973 – 9.4
1974 – 9.8
1975 – 9.6
1976 – 8.8
1977 – 8.8
1978 – 9.0
1979 – 9.7
1980 – 10.2
1981 – 9.8
1982 – 9.1
1983 – 8.3
1984 – 7.9
1985 – 7.9
1986 – 8.6
1987 – 8.3
1988 – 8.4
1989 – 8.7
1990 – 9.4
1991 – 9.8
1992 – 9.3
1993 – 9.5
1994 – 9.0
1995 – 8.2
1996 – 7.4
1997 – 6.8
1998 – 6.3
1999 – 5.7
2000 – 5.5
2001 – 5.6
2002 – 5.6
2003 – 5.7
2004 – 5.5
2005 – 5.9
2006 – 6.1
2007 – 5.9
2008 – 5.4
2009 – 5.0
2010 – 4.8
2011 – 4.7
2012 – 4.7
2013 – 4.5
2014 – 4.5
2015 – 4.9

stanleybmanly's avatar

That’s interesting. If the homicide rate is falling, why should the unsolved murder rate be rising?

Darth_Algar's avatar

Because less murders doesn’t necessarily imply that more of them will be solved.

MrGrimm888's avatar

People used to be convicted far easier. Especially in Chicago, where they were beating confessions out of black people.

As time has gone on, it’s been harder to prove guilt.

And yes. Cops are overwhelmed. Some communities are left to fester…

Seek's avatar

If you’re poor and not a cop, there’s little incentive to solve your murder.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

_ If the homicide rate is falling, why should the unsolved murder rate be rising?_

A large number of the murders are by gang members, and as I mentioned above, neighbors are afraid to get involved, and the lately the cops are slacking.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Cases could also be cleared by pinning the crime on whoever is handy. The wave of wrongful convictions discovered through DNA evidence is truly frightening.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Perhaps people are more aware of the availability of DNA testing etc. So organised murderers are now careful to not leave DNA evidence. I like watching the crime channel and when you see cold case stories, they are often solved because someone bothered to take the DNA evidence collected at the time (even 20 years before) and tested it and found something on file that connected that case to another solved crime.

However, if the perpetrator was careful not to leave such evidence, it is quite likely it won’t ever be solved. There are so many docos now about crimes and forensic evidence etc.

snowberry's avatar

Here in my town, a news article said that unsolved crimes have skyrocketed because there’s no lab to send the evidence. They have all closed down, and the ones in other parts of the state have a huge backlog. A criminal will have it good here.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar

Perhaps people are more aware of the availability of DNA testing etc. So organised murderers…

Most murders are flying off the handle in a rage.

Dexter they are not.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I don’t know that that’s true @Call_Me_Jay. First-degree murder charges are categorised as involving premeditation. Not all murders are frenzied and/or impulsive. And I’m not talking about serial killers. Even killings in a domestic violence situation can be planned.

Call_Me_Jay's avatar


You bring up rare cases as if they disprove the norm.

Murder is not restricted to first degree. And “not all” and “can be” are not relevant when we are talking about “most”.

There is no community of “organised murderers” in the US.

Patty_Melt's avatar

Organised murderes? Would they have a union?

Darth_Algar's avatar

“Support your local Murder Workers AFL-CIO.”

stanleybmanly's avatar

Perhaps the rate of homicide solutions is in decline because improved forensics measures make it more difficult to pin the crime on whomever is convenient.

LostInParadise's avatar

Violence has been in general decline over the last few hundred years. Link

Darth_Algar's avatar


Yup. “Find the nearest person of color” works less well when DNA can prove otherwise.

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