If you thought Chicago’s practice of suppressing lawful armed self-defense during a crime surge was baffling, wait until you hear this. Between 2008 and 2016, the number of detectives—you know, the people charged with figuring out who should be arrested for murders—dropped from 1,252 to 922. Today, just 8 percent of Chicago’s 12,000-person force is detectives, compared with 15 percent in New York and Los Angeles.
The choice to make the “thin blue line” even thinner couldn’t come at a worse time—at least 462 people have been murdered so far this year, compared with 472 in all of 2015. However, of those 472 murders, only 123—or 26 percent—were solved (the national average is 63 percent). When it comes to nonfatal shootings, the numbers are even grimmer—less than 10 percent of those cases were solved.
As one recently retired detective told Reuters, understaffing is a major contributor to unsolved crime: “You get so many cases you could not do an honest investigation on three-quarters of them. The guys … are trying to investigate one homicide, and they are sent out the next day on a brand-new homicide or a double.”
While the department seems to be on the right track pleading for harsher sentences for repeat gun offenders, what good will it do when most offenders are never arrested in the first place?