Why Do Chicago Police Struggle to Solve Shooting Cases?

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The City of Chicago has been making headlines for all the wrong reasons again. While 2018 began with a hopeful stretch of months in which the rate of gun violence dropped across the region, things seem to have taken a turn for the worse. In a single weekend in early August, for example, 74 people were shot—the city’s worst weekend in over two years. What is worse is that by Wednesday of the following week, Chicago police had not made a single arrest in connection with the shootings. Unfortunately, this is not a new trend, as available data shows that the city’s police department only solves about one in 20 shootings—a tragic 5 percent success rate.

Telling Numbers

According to information obtained by the Chicago Tribune , the Chicago Police Department (CPD) officially cleared about 17 percent of the homicides committed last year. “Cleared,” however, does not always mean “solved.” A case is reported as cleared if the department simply identifies a suspect, even if the person is never arrested or charged. The numbers are far worse for non-fatal shootings. The University of Chicago Crime Lab analyzed CPD records for 2016 and found a clearance rate of just 5 percent.

So, what is the problem? City officials claim that a number of factors contribute to the low clearance rate. First and foremost, they say, is the lack of community cooperation and trust. When a shooting occurs, neighbors and bystanders hesitate—if not refuse—to provide information to police investigators.

Sometimes, even the victims will not say who shot them. “I believe karma is (vengeful),” said one young man in a jailhouse interview with USA Today . “One day, you’re going to reap what you sow.” The man refused to tell the police the name of the person who shot him in April.

Stretching Police Too Thin

Another major factor is the amount of work being placed on Chicago police detectives. Some detectives in the city are handling up to 10 cases at a time. Criminologists suggest that the best-performing police departments give detectives three to six cases at any given time. The larger caseloads mean that detectives cannot spend as much time tracking leads or interviewing witnesses.

Are You Facing Gun Violence Charges?

If you or someone you love has been arrested on charges related to gun violence or weapons offenses, contact an experienced Joliet criminal defense attorney . We will help you understand your available options and work hard to protect your future. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation at the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba today.