From 2010 through 2015, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police investigated 311 homicides. Only 163 of those have been cleared with an arrest or other explanation for the death, according to available police and court records. Sixteen cases, however, did not end in a conviction. That means more than half of the murders have gone unsolved, reported PublicSource.
Pittsburgh’s police have been through years of turmoil, including a leadership crisis, citizen allegations of rudeness and brutality, and reported lack of cooperation with an anti-violence intervention program. Now the bureau has a new chief, public safety director, and help from the U.S. Justice Department to repair frayed community relationships and improve homicide investigations. Pittsburgh police officials say they’re making progress.
Nationally, police make arrests in about 64 percent of murders, according to FBI statistics that allow arrests in old cases to be counted as clearances in a new year. Those rates have dropped from 90 percent in the 1960s. Violent crime has also declined.
The reasons cases aren’t solved are easily stated. Lack of community trust in police, active disdain, fear of being targeted for testifying, and the inability of the justice system to overcome those known challenges.
There have been attempts to change things. In 2010, the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime, created explicitly to reduce gun violence, was launched in Pittsburgh.
But criminologist David Kennedy, who created the program PIRC is based on, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last year that the program here was “actively rejected” by police.
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