While HeyJackass.com is not an “official” tabulator of homicides in Chicago, they show that only nine out of about 700 homicides in Chicago this year have been listed as resulting from self defense (11 are classified as police-related). That’s close to the official ratio listed in the FBI Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) for the nation as a whole, which shows police justified homicides occur a little more frequently than non-police justified homicides.
Both of those numbers are significantly under reported for Chicago. Only about one out of five non-police justified homicides are caught by the UCR. It appears that about half of justified police shootings show up in the UCR.
Nationally, the clearance rates for homicides is about 63 percent. We know that most homicides occur among criminals and their criminal associates. Most of them are not legally able to possess firearms. They have a significant incentive to avoid the authorities.
In Indianapolis, police are wondering how many unsolved homicides were justified. From fox59.com:
During recent months, IMPD commanders were discussing whether some of the murders investigated by detectives should be reclassified as self-defense homicides.
On Sept. 14, the bodies of Mack Taylor and Alexander Brown were discovered in an alley near the 3000 block of North Gladstone Avenue where detectives determined two days earlier they had attempted to rob a drug dealer.
Detectives have considered whether or not that drug dealer fired back in self-defense of a home invasion robbery.
“You have the right to use deadly force to prevent the threat, imminent threat, you don’t have to wait to get hit,” said Hennessey. “It could be serious bodily injury or death so you can kill someone that is gonna beat you up.”
A few days later three people died of wounds as the result of a shootout in the 2000 block of West 76th Street. A fourth person survived, and, without any witnesses left alive to counter his story, claimed he was defending himself from a drug robbery.
“Just because you’re committing a crime doesn’t mean that you have to allow yourself to be robbed or killed or beaten up,” said Hennessey.
In some cities, such as Chicago, the clearance rate is much lower, about 20 percent. If the chance of being caught after justifiably killing someone is one out of five, many criminals are accepting that risk. A feedback effect occurs. People don’t trust the police, the police solve fewer cases, so fewer people trust the police.
In Chicago the feedback loop has been accelerated with the Ferguson Effect, where the authorities don’t back up the police, so the police take fewer risks, leading to higher homicide rates.
Those figures — known as the clearance rate — include homicides marked as solved in the current year but committed in different years. But when old cases are stripped out, Chicago’s clearance rate for 2016 homicides drops to about 21 percent. In all, Chicago police had solved just 92 of 432 homicides committed in 2016 through Aug. 16, according to police statistics.
Experts point to several reasons for the exceptionally low clearance rate in Chicago. Most killings in Chicago take place amid a street gang culture that intimidates anyone from coming forward with information.
“It’s reflective of witnesses that don’t want to come forward; they’re afraid gang members will retaliate,” said Thomas Alexander, a University of Maryland professor who researches clearance rates. “Another reason for low clearance in gang killings are people just don’t trust the police.”
As cities become less law abiding, tax revenues plunge. In Chicago the number of officers has been reduced significantly in the last seven years. The number of Chicago detectives has dropped from 1,151 in 2009 to 863 in 2016. Crime scene technicians fell from 113 to 84.
Crime increases poverty at least as much as poverty increases crime. It’s certain that some percentage of unsolved homicides were justified. We will never know how many.
©2016 by Dean Weingarten: Permission to share is granted when this notice is included.