Thursday, June 07, 2018

San Francisco murders

The Washington Post published an interesting, if slightly overdone, graphic investigation yesterday examining cities where more than half of murders go unsolved. I've pulled out their map of our city here. In areas outlined in blue, two of three murders were followed by arrests of suspects; in the orange blocks, less than one in three killings led to an arrest. It will surprise no one that Bay View, Visitation Valley and Inner Mission/SOMA are decidedly orange. It surprised me that the Tenderloin seems to receive more effective policing. (Maybe it's a Twitter effect?) Over 11 years, 51% of San Francisco's murders never led to an arrest.

The article does not report interviews with the SFPD, but I suspect what reporters learned elsewhere is not so different from conditions here.

Homicide arrest rates vary widely when examined by the race of the victim: An arrest was made in 63 percent of the killings of white victims, compared with 48 percent of killings of Latino victims and 46 percent of the killings of black victims. Almost all of the low-arrest zones are home primarily to low-income black residents.

... “It’s one of the best indicators of how well a police department and a community work together,” said Omaha Police Chief Todd Schmaderer. “If a police department can’t solve the greatest crime, the most egregious crime affecting society, what faith would you have in that police department?”

[Many police officials] blamed the low arrest rates ... on frayed relationships with residents and on witnesses who are unwilling to cooperate. ... Retaliation is a real fear.

... [In Indianapolis] “I think there’s an expectation that their police department, or those public servants, look like a representative of the people that they serve,” Police Chief Bryan Roach said. “So right off the bat, we don’t look like the community that we serve in that area.”

Detective Marcus Kennedy, 58, who is retiring next year after more than three decades with the department, said he thinks cases go unsolved because some of his colleagues spend too much time at their desks instead of working the streets.

Kennedy, who is black, said his peers also have failed at times to treat people in the community with respect. “Some detectives, you know, not to call them out, but I mean they’ll piss people off real quick. Just with an attitude,” he said.

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