When it comes to violent crime, police clearance rates have been declining for decades. The rates are especially low for nonfatal shootings: According to The Marshall Project, departments in some cities make an arrest in fewer than 1 in 10 cases. As The Trace reported in 2019, systemic failure to solve gun crimes fuels widening cycles of violence, leaving shooters free to strike again, eroding trust in the police, and driving some victims to seek their own justice.
In late 2019, police in Denver began examining how they could respond to an uptick in gun violence, and settled on an approach that has since caught the attention of cities across the country: They decided to seriously attempt to solve every nonfatal shooting. In the last three years, The Marshall Project and USA TODAY report, the unit dedicated to the effort, known as FAST, has solved hundreds of cases and proved that, with the right resources, investigators can clear most shootings.
While it’s not yet evident that the increased arrests have made Denver safer — and while the strategy does not address the systemic issues linked to violence — increased accountability is valuable, Ajenai Clemmons, a policing expert and professor at the University of Denver, told TMP and USA TODAY. Per Clemmons: “We have every reason to believe people in Denver want justice.”
What to Know Today
About a year before a 25-year-old opened fire on his co-workers at a bank in Louisville, Kentucky, in April, people close to the shooter knew he was struggling with his mental health. Survivors, victims’ family members, and the shooter’s parents are frustrated that he faced no hurdles in buying a rifle before the attack, killing five — and now, some are planning to sue the gunmaker. [The Washington Post]
Residents of Uvalde, Texas, broke ground for a new school to take the place of Robb Elementary, where 19 children and teachers were killed in a mass shooting last year. It’s the first new campus to be built in the small city since 1985, a “symbol of moving forward,” said one of the people behind the new school. [The New York Times]
California Governor Gavin Newsom has made little visible progress on his proposal to enshrine gun safety laws in the U.S. Constitution, apart from advocating for it on social media and gaining approval from his state’s Legislature. He has recruited no other state governments in his effort to call a constitutional convention. [Politico]
The FBI raided an outpost of Baltimore’s flagship gun violence intervention program, Safe Streets, and visited the homes of two staff members. The purpose and scope of the investigation is not yet clear. [The Baltimore Banner]
Days after the deadliest mass shooting in Maine’s history, the NRA promoted a 2019 video clip of new U.S. House Speaker Mike Johnson, a Louisiana Republican, criticizing gun safety measures like universal background checks. Separately, in a comment about the massacre in Maine, Johnson dismissed calls for firearm safety laws, saying: “The problem is the human heart. It’s not guns.” [HuffPost/The New Republic]
Just-in-Time Recreation is a special place for residents of Lewiston, Maine: The only bowling alley in town is home to birthday celebrations, canned-food drives for the local pantry, and lanes where high school students practice a sport that allows them to travel outside the state for competitions. It’s remained closed since the mass shooting last week — but Lewiston bowlers are determined to go back. [The Boston Globe]
Shoot Someone In a Major U.S. City, and Odds Are You’ll Get Away With It: A shocking number of shootings go unsolved. In some police departments, hundreds of cases aren’t investigated at all. (January 2019)