50/50 Chance of getting away with Murder

A recent story regarding the Homicide clearance rate of the Chicago Police Department is a very dismal 34% within the first year and only 50% after two years. The national average is 60%. The story conducted by ABC 7 Chicago reporter Ben Bradley revealed that a Code of Silence is one of the man factors. Another manpower, typically detectives juggle 20 active cases at any one time. Once a case goes cold not much is done to follow up on it.

Why? Because a vast majority of those witness or have knowledge about these crimes do not come forward out of fear of retaliation.  Domestic Disturbances typically are solved because they involve someone the victim knows. But in gang related or drug related homicides the relationship or interactions between the would be victim and offender are always blurred.

A report released by the Boston Herald on November 9, 2011 found that "The street code of silence that has protected ruthless killers for years continues to frustrate Boston homicide cops, says the Boston Herald. Now a chorus of family members, clergy, and police brass is renewing its call for witnesses to come forward and bring justice for the fallen. "It just eats away at us,” said Allen Lee, whose son, Jamie, 29, was gunned down in March. “It was a heavily populated place [ ] there had to be someone who saw something.” What is cited is the failure of witnesses to cooperate is the difference to making or breaking a case.

In a case in the Back of the Yards neighborhood in Chicago, the Code of Silence was broken by a dying victim. In April of 2011, Vince Hernandez with shot, bleeding to death from a gunshot would to the head. While paramedics works to save a dying man, Hernandez a 2-6 Gang member told two Chicago Police Officers on scene "Hey Gus, Bob, it was one of my own f--ing boys,", "It was Donte.". Cook County States Attorneys Office charged Dante Street with the homicide of Hernandez. Although the reason for the homicide is unclear, what is known is that both parties were meeting in a car when the shooting took place. In this case the Code of Silence was broken.
This is a phenomenon that has been occurring all over the country.  In Baton Rouge, Louisiana they have experienced a spike in homicides in the 2012. Up almost 20% in comparison to 2011. Raymond Marcelle owns a barber shop in the targeted zip. He said the crime problem is more than police can take on alone. It's a community problem.
"I got two kids dead," said Marcelle. "All the people out there, nobody seen anything but one lady. If I see somebody shooting somebody, I'm going to call the police and point them out."

Marcelle said people have to break the code of silence and he said the police presence makes a noticeable difference.

A catholic priest in Chicago Father Robert Pfleger in August of this year held a vigil reading off the names of murder victims one by one. Pfleger encourages residents to break the Code of Silence.  Chicago has seen the worst increase in homicides on record at its peak homicides were up over 60% from the previous year.
Chicago Police Sgt. Cesar Guzman who works for the Violent Crimes Unit says that many people in Chicago's gang-dominated neighborhoods are just too afraid of retaliation to talk to police.

But he and other police officials also blame a long-standing attitude that police say appears to be becoming more widespread in many communities: that you just don't snitch to the police.

Guzman says within Chicago's deeply entrenched gang culture, even shooting victims often won't cooperate.

"They know who shot 'em and there's a very strong possibility that they're going to take matters into their own hands," Guzman says. "And then we're going to have another shooting.

In fact, police officials say a spike in retaliatory shootings is part of what is causing the homicide rate in Chicago to increase more than 20 percent so far this year over 2011. And as the number of shootings goes up, police are making fewer and fewer arrests for those violent crimes, leaving a staggering number of cases unsolved.

According to Chicago Police statistics, there were close to 1,800 nonfatal shooting incidents in Chicago this year through the end of September. In almost 80 percent of those cases, detectives were forced to suspend the investigations because they had no workable leads.

Twenty years ago, the clearance rate in Chicago was near 70 percent, and there were more than twice as many homicides a year back then. The union representing Chicago police officers says one factor in the low clearance rate is that there are fewer detectives now.

"Police patronize you, man. Police over here, they don't protect and serve. They patronize," says 21-year-old Joenathan Woods.

Woods, who works on an automotive assembly line, says he doesn't think police put much effort into investigating crimes such as the Green shooting, especially if it appears to be gang-on-gang and happens in poor, black neighborhoods like this one.

"The only thing I can really think of that would help the community really is if the police are more hands-on in serving and protecting, you know what I'm saying? If they walk the streets and get to know the people," Woods says.

Criminologist Art Lurigio agrees that Chicago police need to do a better job earning people's trust.

"The police are responsible for creating an atmosphere in a community that encourages residents to come forward and cooperate with them in solving crimes," he says.

Lurigio, a professor of psychology and criminology at Loyola University Chicago, says the city's community-policing strategy had been making progress in reducing violent crime since its implementation in the mid-1990s. But, he says, the department seems to have de-emphasized community policing in recent years.

Without a better effort witnesses won't come forward, he says, and without witnesses identifying the shooters, shootings are extremely difficult to solve. And that's something he says the shooters know all too well.

"I believe, and so do some other scholars, that there's a general sense in communities where the homicide clearance rate is very low, that they're getting away with murder," Lurigio says.

    http://www.thecrimereport.org/news/crime-and-justice-news/2011-11-unsolved-homicides-boston http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/21/vince-hernandez-breaks-co_n_851915.html http://www.wafb.com/story/18938053/midyear-2012-ebr-homicides-spike http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=8794611 http://www.npr.org/2012/11/13/163242604/in-chicago-violence-soars-and-witnesses-go-silent


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