Murders Rise In Columbus; It’s Not Clear Why

Police spokesman says a popular theory that police are pulling back over fear of criticism is not true in Columbus. “They’re making arrests. The patrol cars are out there rolling,” says Sgt. Rich Weiner.

The national murder total has been trending down for decades. That’s not true in Columbus. The city ranks 14th in the U.S. in population, but its homicide rate was seventh-highest last year, at 12 people killed for every 100,000 residents. The city had 106 homicides last year and 99 in 2015, the Columbus Dispatch reports. “We’re not able to blame a couple extra murders on any one particular problem. Violent crime in general has gone down,” said police spokeman Sgt. Rich Weiner. Chicago’s 2016 murder rate of 28 per 100,000 people was the highest among the 15 biggest U.S. cities. “There’s no definitive answer to why we’re seeing the uptick in cities,” said Darrel Stephens of the Major Cities Police Chiefs Association.

 

Criminologist Richard Rosenfeld of the University of Missouri-St. Louis points to the opioid epidemic and the effects of law-enforcement agencies cutting back on policing efforts since high-profile use-of-force incidents led to protests. Also, some minorities might not report crimes because they don’t trust the police. Instead, they handle conflicts themselves, which can lead to more violence, Rosenfeld said. In Chicago, the number of stops and arrests have declined, he noted. Weiner said Columbus police are not pulling back. “We’re not seeing that here at all. Officers are going out there and doing their jobs. They’re making arrests. The (patrol) cars are out there rolling.” The heroin and synthetic-opioid epidemic has showed no signs of easing, leading to drug dealers clamoring for business and territory. Turf wars often lead to violence. “These are not disputes that can be settled by the Better Business Bureau, police or courts,” Rosenfeld said. “They are often settled by violence.”

from http://thecrimereport.org

Murder Clearance Rate Drops Under 50% in Philadelphia

Possible causes include a shrinking pool of homicide detectives and a belief that media coverage of police brutality allegations has fueled distrust in minority communities. Homicide detectives cite interrogation policies implemented three years ago, which allow witnesses to decline interviews or leave them whenever they want.

More often than at any point in recent memory, people have been getting away with murder in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The city’s homicide clearance rate last year dropped below 50 percent, the lowest the city has seen in at least 15 years, and the third consecutive year that the rate has decreased. The police homicide unit posted a clearance rate above 70 percent as recently as 2012 and 2013, nearly 10 points higher than the national average. Last year, when there were 277 murders, the rate was just 45.4 percent, meaning police arrested dozens fewer murder suspects than they had just a few years earlier.

Theories for the downturn vary, from a shrinking pool of homicide detectives to a belief that media coverage of police brutality allegations has fueled distrust in minority communities, worsening the decades-old challenge of finding cooperating witnesses. Homicide detectives also blame interrogation policies implemented three years ago, which allow witnesses to decline interviews or leave them whenever they want. The rules, designed to protect the civil rights of witnesses and suspects and prevent police from eliciting false confessions, also mandate that suspect interviews be recorded on video. “They changed everything,” said one veteran investigator. “Witnesses are a thing of the past,” said another. Police Commissioner Richard Ross, a former homicide unit commander, was instrumental in crafting the new directives and said they are not going away. Criminologists note that such policies are common in cities with high clearance rates, and simply force detectives to build cases on surveillance video, cellphone records, or other forensic evidence, rather than relying on confessions or witness testimony.

from http://thecrimereport.org

Seven More Chicago Murders; Trump Says City “Needs Help!”

It was only the 21st time in the past 16 years that Chicago has seen that many homicides in a single day. The president offered no specifics in a tweet on how he might help the city.

Seven people were fatally shot in Chicago on Wednesday, making it the deadliest day of 2017 so far, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. It was only the 21st time in the past 16 years that Chicago has seen that many homicides in a single day. The bloody day prompted another tweet from President Trump, who wrote “Seven people shot and killed yesterday in Chicago. What is going on there – totally out of control. Chicago needs help!” As has been the case with other Trump tweets on the subject, there were no specifics on how he might help the city.

The new homicide victims ranged from a pregnant woman in her 20s to a 60-year-old man. Five of the seven homicides came within a two-hour period. Ninety-eight homicides have been recorded in the city in the first eight weeks of the year. That’s one more than the number of people killed in the city during the same time last year, which was considered the most violent in Chicago in two decades. Trump’s tweet is the latest in a string of salvos that led Mayor Rahm Emanuel to travel to Washington, D.C., to discuss what sort of federal help the Trump administration might be willing to provide the city. Police Superintendent Eddie Johnson said last night that the rampant violence in the city is “unacceptable to me, to the Mayor and to everyone who lives in Chicago.”

from http://thecrimereport.org

New Orleans Records 100th Shooting Victim of 2017

New Orleans is a disappointing case study on crime. In 2012, it started targeted anti-gang violence effort called “NOLA for Life,” which led to a 20 percent year-to-year decrease in murders. Since last summer, the problem has got significantly worse.

Murders are on the rise in the U.S., but most Americans aren’t seeing the increase because most of it is being driven by surges in violence in a handful of cities, like Chicago and New Orleans, reports NPR.  New Orleans is an especially disappointing case because the city had made significant progress in pushing down its murder rate. Starting in 2012, it implemented a targeted anti-gang violence effort called “NOLA for Life,” which led to a 20 percent year-to-year decrease in murders. That changed last summer. “There’s been a dramatic increase in gun violence that started in July of 2016, got significantly worse in October and November and then has continued to get worse in the first eight weeks of 2017,” says Jeff Asher, a New Orleans crime analyst.

The fact that New Orleans has been so quick this year to reach its 100th shooting victim is just one symptom of the severity of what’s going on in the city. Another is the sense of routine at the scene of the shooting where that milestone was reached. A common refrain in New Orleans is that murder rate here is high, but it’s mostly a small group of people who are killing each other. This line of thinking is meant to make it easier to live in cities like New Orleans, but it also happens to be the insight at the heart of the strategy that helped the city push down its murder rate — at least for a few years: Most homicides are committed by a small percentage of the population.

from http://thecrimereport.org

Distorted DNA in JonBenet Ramsey Investigation Part of Ongoing Coverup?

Breakfast reading from the Voice Media Empire: A new reportindicates that former Boulder district attorney Mary Lacy misrepresented DNA evidence in the JonBenét Ramsey investigation in order to clear her parents and her brother of any suspicion in the six-year-old’s 1996 murder. That revelation is unsettling enough, but it also fits into a pattern of officials […]

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jonbenetBreakfast reading from the Voice Media Empire: A new reportindicates that former Boulder district attorney Mary Lacy misrepresented DNA evidence in the JonBenét Ramsey investigation in order to clear her parents and her brother of any suspicion in the six-year-old’s 1996 murder. That revelation is unsettling enough, but it also fits into a pattern of officials misleading the public over the entire troubled history of the still-unsolved case. Westword has the story.

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from http://www.truecrimereport.com

Dylan Redwine Parents’ Dueling Lawsuits Tossed, No Justice in Sight for Slain Child

Breakfast reading from the Voice Media Empire: Just over four years ago, thirteen-year-old Dylan Redwine disappeared during a court-ordered visit with his father, Mark Redwine. His body was found in June 2013, and just over two years later, Mark was named a person of interest in the case. Meanwhile, Dylan’s mom filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against […]

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dylan-redwine-easter-photo-facebook-800Breakfast reading from the Voice Media Empire: Just over four years ago, thirteen-year-old Dylan Redwine disappeared during a court-ordered visit with his father, Mark Redwine. His body was found in June 2013, and just over two years later, Mark was named a person of interest in the case. Meanwhile, Dylan’s mom filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Mark, to which her ex-husband responded with a countersuit. Now, Mark’s suit has been tossed out following the previous dismissal of Elaine’s complaint — but the search for justice continues. Westword has the story.

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Nashville Homicides Last Year Highest in Decade

Still, the number of youth homicide victims showed a “dramatic decline,” says Mayor Megan Barry. The city’s overall crime rate dropped slightly as population grew.

Homicides in Nashville rose to 84 last year, the highest number of killings in the city since 97 people died in 2005, The Tennessean reports. At the same time, the year saw a 40 percent drop in youth killings over 2015, when 20 youths were slain, a total that prompted Mayor Megan Barry to launch an initiative aimed at curbing violence among the city’s young people. Much of the city’s violence in 2015 played out among youths as acts of brutal retaliation for squabbles that police said were once settled by punches instead of bullets.

“Over the last year, Nashville has seen a dramatic decrease in youth homicide victims, and Metro police have worked hard to keep crime in check in 2016, resulting in a slight reduction in the crime rate overall even as our population continues to grow,” said Barry. She called the increase in homicides in Nashville and in other cities last year concerning for all.  Memphis set a grim record with 228 homicides in 2016, eclipsing by 15 the previous record of 213 set in 1993. Nashville’s all-time high for homicides was 112 in 1997.

 

Does Trump Have Much Chance of Reducing Murders?

The President-elect has falsely said that “inner-city crime is reaching record levels.” Expert Frankllin Zimring has his doubts about whatever Trump’s agenda, he could make a clear impact on the homicide rate. “We can’t just give it another dose of what worked last week, because we don’t know what worked last week,” says Zimring,

Among falsehoods President-elect Donald Trump has repeated over and over again: “Inner-city crime is reaching record levels.” “The murder rate in the United States, it’s the worst, the highest it’s been in 45 years.” “You won’t hear this from the media: We have the highest murder rate in this country in 45 years.” You won’t hear it from the media because it isn’t true, the Los Angeles Times reports. It’s also not the whole story. Though far below their record levels in the 1980s and 1990s, homicides have jumped dramatically in some U.S. cities over the last two years, breaking from the decades-long decline in violent crime as Trump prepares to take control of federal law enforcement agencies.

Chicago saw at least 762 victims, the most since 1996. Killings there soared more than 50 percent compared with 2015. Memphis saw a record 228 deaths. Las Vegas had its highest homicide total in at least 20 years, and so did San Antonio. “Can we explain either the general direction, or more importantly, the pattern of change?” asks law Prof. Franklin Zimring of the University of California Berkeley who has studied crime rates. “The answer is: not really.” Zimring has his doubts about whatever Trump’s agenda, the president could make a clear impact on the homicide rate. “We can’t just give it another dose of what worked last week, because we don’t know what worked last week,” Zimring says. He adds, alluding to presidents trying to bring down crime: “If Nixon didn’t, if Lyndon [Johnson] didn’t, if Jimmy Carter didn’t and Ronald Reagan didn’t, then why should Mr. Trump?”

David Temple Released From Prison One Month After High Court Ordered New Trial

Greeted by his family and a wall of reporters outside the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday, David Temple, who was released from prison nine years after being convicted of his wife’s murder, said he wants “the people who put me in [in prison], who lied and cheated, [to]be held accountable,” the Houston Chronicle reports. The […]

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houston-press-temple-family-evidence-1Trial Exhibit

Greeted by his family and a wall of reporters outside the Harris County Sheriff’s Office Wednesday, David Temple, who was released from prison nine years after being convicted of his wife’s murder, said he wants “the people who put me in [in prison], who lied and cheated, [to]be held accountable,” the Houston Chronicle reports.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals ruled in a split decision last month that lead prosecutor Kelly Siegler did not timely turn over crucial evidence — mostly investigators’ notes — to Temple’s defense attorney, Dick DeGuerin, before Temple’s 2007 trial.

Read more about one of the messiest capital murder cases in Harris County as of late.

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New Orleans Murders Up Again; Is Mayor’s Plan Working?

Highest body count in four years, including a mass shooting on Bourbon Street in November, has critics wondering if Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA for Life anticrime plan is working. A Landrieu spokesman said, “We are confident in our strategy. We’re doubling down on all parts of the strategy.”

New Orleans’ murder tally climbed for the second year in a row last year, ending at 176. It was the highest body count since 193 people were slain in 2012. Critics questioned whether Mayor Mitch Landrieu’s NOLA For Life murder-reduction strategy is having the impact the administration claims, reports the New Orleans Times-Picayune. The year’s killings included domestic violence incidents inside homes, low-level narcotics dealers engaged in bloody turf wars and higher-profile cases such as the Nov. 27 mass shooting on Bourbon Street that left a bystander dead, nine others injured, and inflicted new scars on the city’s vital tourism industry. It was the second mass shooting on Bourbon Street since 2014.

Criminologist Peter Scharf, of LSU’s School of Public Health, said a second consecutive year with an increase in murders questions the Landrieu administration’s much touted strategy to reduce New Orleans high murder rate. “There is no articulable strategy on the part of the city,” Scharf said. “NOLA For Life, to this date, hasn’t been effective. And if someone is dying of cancer and the chemotherapy regimen doesn’t work, you don’t just keep doing the same thing. You go to something else.” The Landrieu administration disputes that assessment, pointing at lower proportion of killings among young African-American men, the program’s main focus. Landrieu spokesman Tyronne Walker said the administration not only stands by NOLA For Life, but is amplifying it this year. “Obviously, we’re seeing a spike (in murders) and we can’t run from that,” Walker said. “But we are confident in our strategy. … We’re doubling down on all parts of the strategy.”

from http://thecrimereport.org