Chicago cops lagging behind other cities in solving murders
How bad is the murderous crime wave currently sweeping Chicago's streets? A resident of one neighborhood has hired his own personal security team to patrol his community, doing the job the Chicago police can't do.
A Chicago man, fed up and frustrated with what he says is the rising crime in his neighborhood, takes matters into his own pocketbook — shelling out thousands to pay for private street security.
Security firm owner Howard Greer, also a Chicago cop, patrols the 1100 block of North LaSalle. It’s his off-duty job, paid for by this De Mudd.
“I’ve been watching my neighborhood deteriorate over the last couple of years,” Mudd says.
Police, he says, couldn’t keep up. So, Greer and fellow off-duty officers now walk the Gold Coast pocket with guns and handcuffs — six days a week, eight hours a day.
The biggest problems here? Drug dealing, prostitution and loitering.
“It’s like a supplement, supplement to crime fighting, supplement to police department,” Greer explains. “I think it’s very effective.”
It’s not cheap. Mudd says he’s paid $5,000 since mid-August and anticipates spending $50,000.
“I have the means. I’ve been very fortunate,” he says.
Mudd doesn’t blame police and, in fact, sympathizes with them. He also talked to his alderman before hiring Greer’s firm.
Ald. Walter Burnett says he remembers speaking to Mudd about the idea and agrees there are not enough police patrols.
Burnett wishes it didn’t come to this. Mudd agrees.
“I have solved the problem for my neighborhood, but what I’ve done is I’ve just pushed the problem to another street corner in Chicago,” he says. “That’s not the results that we, as citizens, should be looking for.”
No it's not. And to make matters worse, Chicago police are lagging behind other major cities when it comes to solving mureders:
Of the 432 homicides committed between January 1 and August 16 of this year, the department has solved 92, or 21 percent of them, the Chicago Tribunereported.
When homicides committed in all years are added in, the department says the clearance rate is about 30 percent. But even that figure is lower than the 49 percent clearance rate in Philadelphia and 56 percent clearance rate in Houston, which ranks just behind Chicago in terms of population size.
Experts say one reason so few are solved is that, as police have long said, so many are related to gangs in the poor neighborhoods where most of the shootings occur. They say witnesses who live in these neighborhoods are afraid to come forward out of fear of retaliation and a gang culture in which gang members have been historically unwilling to cooperate with police.
Others say that manpower on the police force may be a factor.
"Homicides have gone up and the number of shootings has gone up; and the number of detectives has gone down," said Fraternal Order of Police President Dean Angelo.
In fact, the FOP says the number of detectives has dwindled from 1,151 in 2009 to 863 as of July. Not only that, the union says the number of evidence technicians, whose job is crucial to investigations, has dropped from 113 to 84 over that span.
This comes amid a sharp spike in the number of homicides and shootings this year.
The low percentage of solved murder cases is at least partially the result of budget cuts by Mayor Rahm Emanuel when he first took office. While that trend has now been reversed, it will take a couple of years before the police department regains full strength. In the meantime, the overworked homicide detectives are unable to keep up with the carnage.
Being centrally located, Chicago is a gang mecca. Cartels use the city as a regional hub for their operations so the turf wars are violent and bloody. Witnesses are intimidated and informants are nearly non existent. The cartels are extremely well organized, which makes prosecuting the leaders extremely difficult.
The problem isn't as simple as adding more police officers, detectives, and CSI's. But it certainly wouldn't hurt.