Are the murderers in this South Central neighborhood really that dumb, or are the detectives really good?

According to Jill Leovy’s Homicide Report, only 39% of the homicides in Los Angeles County this year have been solved. However, LAPD’s Newton homicide unit in South Central L.A. has been solving more than half of it murders, and “has such a high clearance rate that its numbers distort the overall average.”

Without Newton, the clearance rate of the sample would drop to about 34%.

To put this another way, outside of Newton, about two out of three murderers in the countywide sample have gotten away with it, so far anyway.

The LAPD considers cases to be “cleared” (solved) when an arrest has been made. The Homicide Report is determining its rate by “the number of cases in which a suspect has been charged versus the number of criminal homicide cases investigated by a given homicide unit.”

[source: “How Many Murders Are Solved?”, The Homicide Report]

5 Replies to “Are the murderers in this South Central neighborhood really that dumb, or are the detectives really good?”

  1. A third possibility is that the police in that neighborhood don’t bother finding the real murderer and just grab whoever they stumble upon. I doubt that this is the actual reason (otherwise the rate would be much, much higher) but I didn’t want you offering an incomplete list of possibilities.

  2. The LAPD considers cases to be “cleared” (solved) when an arrest has been made.

    Wow – that statement right there says everything you need to know about the meaningfulness of these statistics.

  3. ^
    Although I think you guys covered it pretty much, few more interesting aspects of this are:

    In an area like the newton div. it is not hard to walk around and find male Latino/black gangmembers to arrest, I would guess that police generally go to the enemy neighborhood and find someone to pick up (actually, I have seen that happen). That is the 2nd thing, these areas have such codified sociopolitical hierarchies and intact neighborhood social orders (ie gangs) that a “hood trail” is not hard to follow for cops. If someone from florencia was shot north of 55th it’s probably by 38th st. or east coast crips (& so on and so forth), and there is usually some stool pigeon or loudmouth (I hate to call a wtiness that, but in the hood that’s what they are considered) to give the PD just enough evidence to find someone.

    Plus, gang members are stupid and brazen, especially in these neighborhoods. I would guess that a fair amount of these homicides occur in the day or around multiple innocent witnesses, and most of the assailants are so arrogant that they presume they are “too hard” to be ratted out even by the general public. So they walk around brazenly bragging about their action, taunt the victim’s neighborhood personally or with graffiti, carry the murder weapon on their person, and continue to muredr people until they get caught. I hate to give all the yupsters a new stereotype, but most gang member murderers arent caught until they have several homicides on their resume. Being stuck in county with a bunch of cholos bragging will make anyone scared shitless about our society in no time, trust me.

  4. The LAPD considers cases to be “cleared” (solved) when an arrest has been made.

    Wow – that statement right there says everything you need to know about the meaningfulness of these statistics.

    I think that’s pretty standard procedure for most police departments, at least as far as their methodology for generating statistics.

    On another note, this reminds me of season three of The Wire. Go Bunny!

  5. But note that Jill Leovy’s investigation takes it a step further, and only counts when police have actually charged a suspect – meaning they consider the case solved.

Comments are closed.