A new study has indicated that the Boston Police Department has drastically increased the number of homicides they solved since they stopped making arrests for marijuana. The homicide clearance rate increase by 10% following the decriminalization of marijuana in the area.
“The BPD homicide unit increased the yearly Boston homicide clearance rate by nearly 10 percent […] and by more than 18 percent when the clearance rate definition was extended to include those cases awaiting grand jury decisions,” the study said.
The findings were released in a new study published by Northeastern School of Criminology and Criminal Justice director Anthony Braga and Boston Police Department Deputy Chief of Staff Desiree Dusseault.
The study was called “Can Homicide Detectives Improve Homicide Clearance Rates?,” and was published in November in the Crime & Delinquency journal.
The study reviewed every homicide in Boston between 2007 and 2011 and found that the department was hardly spending any time or resources to hunt down murderers. This is not a simple oversight, and is obviously due to the fact that police departments don’t have much of a financial incentive to solve murders.
Although the study does not mention the factors leading to the increase in solved murders, the clearance rate coincides with the decriminalization of marijuana.
Civil asset forfeiture pays. Busting low-level drug dealers by the dozen and confiscating their drugs, guns, cars, houses, and money pays. Writing tickets for victimless crime pays. Pulling you over for window tint, seat belts, arbitrary traveling speeds, and expired license plates; these are the things that pay — solving murders does not pay.
However, as the drug war toned down slightly with the decriminalization of marijuana, the department was miraculously able to funnel more resources and dedicate more officers towards solving murders.
“I was surprised that they took such a serious and hard look at existing policy and practices. And that they were willing to engage with an outside researcher to help them with that process,” Braga said.
“It’s an area where very few police departments are willing to take a real, in-depth look at how their investigators are handling cases, The Boston police has a history of collaborating with researchers and are generally very open,” he added.
In a recent statement, the Boston Police said that,
“The [homicide] unit received additional resources, training and personnel in attempts to provide the detectives with the tools they needed to clear more cases. The new, bolstered Homicide Unit has responded with positive results.”
In criminal justice, clearance rates are used as a measure of crimes solved by the police. The clearance rate is calculated by dividing the number of crimes that are “cleared” (a charge being laid) by the total number of crimes recorded.
In the United States, the murder clearance rate in 1965 was more than 90 percent. Since the inception of the war on drugs, the murder clearance rate has plummetted to an average of less than 65 percent per year.
This decline is in spite of there being far fewer murders. It is also in spite of new technological developments to help police solve crimes, like DNA testing, advanced forensic labs, and unethical spying devices like the stingray.
Despite the near complete erosion of the constitutional protections against unlawful search and seizure, the clearance rate for murder continued its free fall. This highlights the fact that no matter how many rights are given up or freedoms diminished, police cannot guarantee your safety.
According to the Department of Justice, there are currently over 400,000 untested rape kits collecting dust in police evidence rooms nationwide, and many other estimates suggest that this number could be as high as one million.
As a result of this horrific negligence, roughly 3% of rape cases in America are actually solved. This is in spite of the fact that many rape kits have a high chance of leading to an arrest since most rapists are career criminals who have their DNA on file.
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