Chicago PD clearing fewer murders this year, officials say

The clearance rate this year so far is 41%, compared to 46% at the same time last year

By John Byrne and Jeremy Gorner
Chicago Tribune

CHICAGO — Chicago police are solving murders at a worse rate this year than they did last year, officials said Thursday.

Police officials revealed the 41% clearance rate, which was around 50% at the end of last year, during the department’s annual City Council budget hearing. The clearance rate was at around 46% at the end of October 2019, according to Police Department records.

Chicago police Superintendent David O. Brown attends a news conference Monday, Sept. 14, 2020.
Chicago police Superintendent David O. Brown attends a news conference Monday, Sept. 14, 2020. (E. Jason Wambsgans/Chicago Tribune)

Chief of Detectives Brendan Deenihan said the department is “hoping, obviously, to trend upwards” on solving murders, which are up in Chicago compared to last year.

“Obviously this year has been difficult for many different reasons, and the murder-per-capita has unfortunately gone up, but the detectives are doing an excellent job clearing all the cases that they can,” Deenihan said.

The clearance rate was at a low of 30% in 2016, Deenihan said.

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The Police Department budget is usually the most closely watched part of the mayor’s annual spending plan. Mayor Lori Lightfoot has announced she plans to eliminate over 600 vacant Police Department positions in 2021 to help close the city’s $1.2 billion budget hole.

On Thursday, police Superintendent David Brown said he’s keeping an open mind about reinstating some form of the Police Department’s controversial merit promotions process, which interim Superintendent Charlie Beck suspended last year amid long-standing complaints that it led to cronyism in how the department made promotions.

“I have yet to determine whether I will bring that back or have some different iteration of merit,” Brown said. “But I will just say from a high level, we have to focus on diversity among all the ranks. And multiple choice tests doesn’t necessarily get us to that point."

Some Black and Latino aldermen have said the merit program — which allowed officers to be promoted not just based on exam scores but also by proving their leadership skills to bosses in other ways — improved diversity in the department’s upper ranks.

(c)2020 the Chicago Tribune

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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