LAS VEGAS- Each year 6,000 killers get away with murder in America. That's according to a study of FBI records. The study found the rate of solved homicides since 1980 nationwide is 63%. In Clark County, the rate is 57%.
But, Metro Police's solve rate has risen in recent years. Local law enforcement officials credit several reasons. Breakthroughs in forensic science are cracking cold cases. DNA technology is helping put bad guys behind bars. And, there's always good old-fashioned police work.
"If we don't get the information, and if we don't get the leads, we can't track down the killers," said North Las Vegas Police Sgt. Tim Bedwell.
According to a study by the Scripps Howard News Service, the percentage of unsolved homicides nationwide has risen sharply, while the homicide rate has dropped to levels not seen since the 1960's. The Scripps Howard analysis breaks down the number of homicides since 1980 by decade, county, and police department.
"When we do domestic-related homicides, for example, the solving rate is very high," Bedwell said. "When we do crimes that are random, it's obviously going to be harder to solve those crimes." Sgt. Bedwell says his city is seeing more killings. "What's really troubling us right now is we've had so many domestic-related homicides in the valley this year," he said.
UNLV Criminal Justice Professor Dr. Bill Sousa says cities with a large number of drug or gang-related murders tend to also have lower solve rates. "Many urban areas have problems with homicide, but the homicide problem is very different from place to place to place," he said. "Domestic homicides or homicides that are considered more crimes of passion tend to have higher clearance rates, because it's often easier to identify suspects in those cases."
"I think the expectation of the public has grown greatly, because we have television shows like ‘CSI' where every murder gets solved in an hour," Sgt. Bedwell said.
In 2008, North Las Vegas' solve rate was 82%. Metro Police had a solve rate of 67%, and Henderson Police posted a 60% solve rate. By comparison, the solve rate was 21% in Detroit and 22% in New Orleans.
It may take time, but police promise the law will catch up to anyone with blood on their hands.