As the rate of homicide in New Jersey has reduced over the past few years, the rate at which the cases are solved also decreased. This was shown in the Issue cover story with the name “Getting away with murder”.

It is noted that the homicide clearance rates, especially the rate of offenders arrested, has decreased over the past many years. The average rate of crime clearance in the year 1980 to 1984 was 80.6%. The average clearance rate recorded for the time period from 2010 to 2014 decreased to 54%.

Same is the case with rape cases. It is great that the rate of rape has reduced. The state had the lowest number of reported rates per 100,000 individuals in the U.S. in the previous year according to an estimate. But the rape clearance rate has also reduced; the rate was 58.2% in the year 1995 and recorded 31.4% in the last year. The national clearance rate for rapes in the previous year was 39.3%.

It is said that if the Attorney General’s Office is concerned about the problem, then it will not be an issue to worry about. According to law enforcement officials, there were no statewide programs specifically for the clearance rates, which is the reason of this increased issue.

Academics concerned about the issue have different explanation for the low clearance rate. The reasons of low clearance rate include:

  • Less resources
  • High turnover in the police ranks
  • Inexperienced violent crime investigators
  • Higher standards of forensic evidence

2 factors that are necessary for crime clearance are the police relations with the community, cooperation and information sharing with other law enforcement agencies, said David Carter, the Michigan State criminologist.

Two things that play an important role in the high crime clearance rate is the investigation of the homicides and optimal police procedures, according to a criminology professor at the University of Maryland, Charles Welford.

The main reason of the reduced clearance rate is “failure of political will,” said Thomas Hargrove, director of the Murder Accountability Project. He said that there are many other causes of the low crime clearance rate.

The New Jersey Attorney General’s Office requires working in collaboration with the police chiefs from the state’s largest cities to create a plan for reversing the downward trend in homicide and rape clearance rates.

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