What To Know Today

How to improve police clearance rates of shootings. Across the country, police departments rarely arrest or charge someone in shooting cases, even for fatal ones. A new report from the Manhattan Institute’s Anthony Braga, a criminologist, reviews data that suggest new, targeted police procedures and increased resources can improve clearance rates for shootings. Braga notes that overall in the United States, the rate of cleared homicides declined from 79 percent in 1976 to 61 percent in 2019. And as The Trace has reported, the failure to clear shootings in cities across the country is especially pronounced for Black and Hispanic victims. More granularly:

  • In Durham, North Carolina, half of gun homicides in 2015 led to an arrest, but only 10 percent of nonfatal shootings did the same
  • Between 2010 and 2016 in Chicago, police cleared between 26 and 46 percent of gun homicides and 5 to 11 percent of nonfatal shootings
  • Last year, the NYPD cleared 47 percent of fatal shootings, and 32 percent of nonfatal ones

Braga’s report draws on the success of the Boston Homicide Clearance Project, said to be the first field test of whether increased resources and updated procedures could improve homicide clearance rates. Between 2004 and 2011, the city’s clearance rate was 44 percent, 19 points lower than the nationwide rate. After expanding the homicide department, beefing up forensics training, hiring a civilian crime analyst to crawl databases in real time, and adding a second victim-witness resource officer, the city reached a rate of 66 percent in the first two years. Braga suggests more departments adopt measures to enhance investigative resources and oversight in that way for both homicides and nonfatal shootings. He points to Denver’s success in increasing clearance rates after launching a unit last year to focus on nonfatal shootings. His bottom line: “The effective investigation of shootings can help prevent further cascades of gun violence in cities by deterring retaliation and incapacitating violent individuals who could persist in their crimes or end up as victims of retaliatory shootings.”

Louisiana legislators won’t overturn veto of constitutional carry law. Governor John Bel Edwards, the only Democratic governor in the Deep South, struck down the law that would allow people to carry a concealed gun without getting a permit, undergoing a background check, or taking the now required firearms safety training course. In a special veto override session, state lawmakers failed to secure enough votes to enact the law. The state already has open carry laws, and members of the law enforcement community have openly condemned the vetoed legislation. Texas, Tennessee, and Utah, are among the states to have passed variations of permitless carry this year. 

A third Oath Keeper pleads guilty to gun-related Capitol insurrection conspiracy. Caleb Berry, 20, pleaded guilty to felony counts of conspiracy and obstructing Congress. Charging documents say he and other members of the far-right group came to Washington, D.C., with plans to ferry firearms from a Virginia hotel into the city, where guns are heavily restricted. Berry pledged to cooperate with federal prosecutors, as have two other Oath Keeper members who took similar plea deals. Related: A new U.S. Capitol Police chief. J. Thomas Manger, who served for 15 years as the police chief in Montgomery County, Maryland, has been selected as chief of the troubled agency that has been plagued by morale problems and external criticism. 

Chicagoans reflect on the rise in gun violence, solutions. As the federal government launches a “strike force” targeting illegal gun trafficking in the city, and the city unrolls a force to target straw purchasing, residents are also coming together to find solutions to mounting violence. In an interview with NPR, one community activist, whose infant niece was injured in a July 4 shooting, said: “It’s painful because when gun violence hits home, it’s like somebody stabbed you in the heart.” The founder of RAGE, the Resident Association of Greater Englewood, told NPR that policymakers need to involve people who live with the danger of gun violence. “The majority of people in these communities plagued by violence are not killers. But it’s so much attention because they wreak so much havoc and what they do is so destructive. So you’ve got to tackle it from every angle.” 

Watch: The Trace’s Lakeidra Chavis in conversation with WTTW about her “Aftershocks” series focusing on the lasting impacts of gun violence in Chicago, and the uphill battle for survivors to get help. “It takes a lot of resources and support for people to be able to move forward,” Lakeidra said.

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Data Point

25.7 percent — the share of youth who are diagnosed with a new mental health disorder within a year of being shot, according to a new study. The most common diagnoses were trauma disorders, substance abuse, and disruptive disorders. [Academic Pediatrics]