Community distrust of police leads to low percentage of homicide - KMOV.com

Community distrust of police leads to low percentage of homicide arrests, captain says

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By Jasmine Brown By Jasmine Brown

ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- It wasn't a record year, but there were a staggering 159 homicides in St. Louis in 2014. Homicide detectives cleared just 71 cases, a 45 percent clearance rate.  

That number is below the department's five-year average of 56 percent, which is close to the national average.

"In a year where there are 159, where you spend more time doing your scene investigation, filing your report, the lab gets backed up because there is that much more physical evidence that needs to be processed,” explained Captain Mike Sack, who oversees the homicide department for the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department. Sack says volume can be a problem because when you have so many cases, you don't have as many resources to conduct each investigation.

“I can tell you the biggest obstacle I face as a prosecutor trying to make this city safe is lack of community involvement,” said St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce. “That is the number one reason we are not able to hold dangerous felons accountable.”

Joyce says people won't get involved with police or prosecutors for a variety of reasons; they think someone else will do it or video and science will solve the case.

“I think there is a great degree of distrust from many members in our community against law enforcement…and against prosecutors too,” Joyce added. “There is no question about it."

Both Joyce and Sack say community policing will help build the trust that is needed to bridge the gap.  They need the community’s help to solve murders and prosecute killers.

“Police can't solve all these crimes ourselves. We can only rely on the science so much,” Capt. Sack said.

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