When one of my tutoring kids was shot and killed in November of 2010, I was devastated. And while Prince's killer was arrested and his case was closed fairly quickly, the homicide rates in DC continue to haunt me almost a year and a half later.
Shortly after Prince's death, I wrote about these statistics in detail in my post "More than a statistic". I took great pains in researching these numbers, going through DCPD's online records to collect the data and triple checking my math to make sure I hadn't made a mistake. And while the numbers were disconcerting, they were still a drastic improvement from years past. Those numbers broke my heart, and knowing that Prince was one of those numbers, well, that was just about unbearable.
So when I read an article in The Washington Post showing that the DCPD was messing with these numbers to make their closure rate look more impressive, I was furious. And to read those misleading numbers confirmed by Homicide Watch D.C., and online publication I have contributed to and followed since homicide touched my own life...I can't even express to you how that made me feel.
These misleading numbers belittle victims and their families. It makes the deaths seems trivial. It degrades and misrepresents the pain of the family and friends of the 43% of homicide victims that remain unsolved. And as for those active murder cases, they seem to not matter so much as long as cold cases from 20 years ago are being closed.
Don't get me wrong—the DCPD does great work. Murder rates continue to fall, and fall drastically. Even the "real" case closure rates are fairly impressive. They've also come a long way in improving relations with victims' families and the community in general. With things going so well, why do they feel the need to fudge the numbers? It only hurts us in the long run.