In cities like Baltimore, Chicago and New Orleans—which cleared under 28 percent of its homicide cases in 2016—the fracturing of gangs has added a difficult dimension for detectives. “It’s a national disaster,” said Scharf. “With every one of these weekends where you see multiple killed and even more wounded and few arrested, the gangs become more emboldened and the witnesses weaker in their conviction to step up.” Memphis, where Adcock is based, saw its homicide clearance fall to 38 percent in 2016. Cities like Boston have made headway. Between 2007 and 2011, the city solved 47.1 percent of homicides. After focusing on the issue, police improved the clearance rate to 56.9 percent. The department increased the amount of evidence analyzed by the crime lab and interviewed more witnesses promptly at crime scenes, say Anthony Braga, a Northeastern University criminologist, and Desiree Dusseault, deputy police chief of staff.
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