Murder Clearance Rate Is Higher Than Reports Suggest, Police Brass Say

Craig Dellimore
October 30, 2018 - 3:14 pm

Antonio Perez/Chicago Tribuen/TNS


CHICAGO (WBBM NEWSRADIO) --  At City Council budget hearings Tuesday, Chicago Police officials were insisting that their murder conviction rate is much higher than media reports and critics might suggest. It depends on how you count cases.

Aldermen gave Supt. Eddie Johnson a warm reception, but some were still concerned about reports that police were only solving about one in every five murders. 

Chief of Detectives Melissa Staples said that's only if you count murders committed and solved in the same year. She told aldermen the FBI standard is to count cases solved for murders from the current year and past years.

If you use the FBI’s standard for homicide clearance rates, she said, the rate is 42 percent now. Still less than half.

Staples admits the rate that police were solving murder cases dropped in recent years. She says when she became chief, the detectives test hadn’t been given for a decade.

She says more cases are being solved overall. The clearance rate is up now—she says—and above the 17 percent some news reports indicated.

She admits even 42 percent isn’t enough, but she says there are 1,200 detectives working cases now.