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  • Writer's picturePeter Lindstrom, Esq.

Low Homicide Clearance Rates In Minneapolis: Its Impact on False Accusations



“We don’t have enough detectives.”

-Thomas Hargrove, Founder of the Murder Accountability Project


In the quest for justice, law enforcement agencies often face a crucial challenge: balancing the need to solve cases efficiently with the imperative to ensure accuracy and fairness. However, in cities like Minneapolis, where the Police Department's homicide unit suffers from chronic understaffing, the ramifications of low clearance rates have cast a troubling shadow over the pursuit of justice. In the wake of George Floyd there has been a mass exodus of officers from the Minneapolis Police Department. The homicide unit is only staffed with twelve people for a city with a population of over 400,000. The unfortunate fallout? Innocent individuals can find themselves ensnared in an overworked system, falsely accused of murder.


CLEARANCE RATE PRESSURES


The pressing issue of low staffing within the Minneapolis Police Department's homicide unit has amplified the urgency to improve clearance rates. While the objective behind elevating these rates is honorable - aiming to deliver closure to victims and their families - the unintended consequences paint a stark picture. The pressure to solve cases swiftly inadvertently incentivizes hasty investigations and the arrest of individuals with questionable evidence. Undeniably, the Minneapolis solving more homicides is a good thing. But putting pressure on the police to solve more murder can have unintended negative consequences that will be explored throughout this article. See below for a table representing the clearance rate of the Minneapolis Police Department to the statewide average.

Year

Minneapolis

Statewide

2019

41%

64%

2020

38%

65%

2021

52%

62%

THE NUMBERS CAN BE MISLEADING


When investigations are rushed, there's a heightened risk of focusing solely on securing an arrest rather than conducting a thorough examination of all available evidence. This haste increases the probability of wrongful arrests and charges, pushing innocent individuals into the daunting realm of being accused of murder. It's crucial to recognize that a successful clearance rate does not equate to a conviction in a court of law; it merely signifies an arrest. So anybody who is arrested but is actually innocent is included in the number as still successfully clearing the case.


WRONGFUL CONVICTIONS


The urgency to clear cases and achieve positive statistics has, regrettably, resulted in the unjust charging of individuals who should never have been accused. Tragically, some innocent individuals are even wrongfully convicted due to the inherent difficulties of defending oneself within the criminal justice system. The burden of proof often leans heavily against the accused, setting the stage for biases formed by the initial accusation, significantly impacting their lives and those around them.


RELYING ON QUESTIONABLE EVIDENCE


Furthermore, the pressure on law enforcement to swiftly resolve cases often leads to reliance on circumstantial evidence or hasty assumptions, sidestepping the need for a meticulous investigation. Flawed eyewitness testimonies, coerced confessions, or erroneous forensic analyses might form the core of a case against an innocent individual, all driven by the urgency to close the case file.


NO JUSTICE FOR THE VICTIM'S FAMILY WITH AN INNOCENT PERSON BEHIND BARS


The repercussions of these rushed and flawed investigations transcend the lives of those unjustly accused, extending to impede the pursuit of the actual perpetrators. True justice is impeded or delayed when resources and attention are misdirected toward the wrong targets, leaving behind a trail of unresolved cases and the real offenders at large.


CONCLUSION


Having an understaffed homicide unit and the consequent pressure to bolster clearance rates can inadvertently contribute to innocent individuals being falsely accused of murder. If you or a loved one are being falsely accused of murder it’s important to hire a criminal defense attorney who is skilled in handling murder cases. An attorney who mostly handles DWI cases is likely not the best attorney to be defending your case. Peter Lindstrom, the Founder of Subzero Criminal Defense, is trained in the science of death investigation from the Death Investigation Training Academy. There are many cases where the forensic science can be the difference between winning and losing. You want an attorney who know the science behind death investigation to fiercely argue your case.


Contact Subzero Criminal Defense and I may be able to start working on your case as soon as today. 651-248-5142. Subzero Criminal Defense provides a defense with intelligence, creativity, and grit.

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