There is great wisdom to be gleaned from studying anomalies, which is why the El Paso Police Department’s homicide unit deserves our attention. It is the rare squad that appears to be solving an ever-greater percentage of its cases, thereby defying the nationwide trend illustrated in the graph above:
Since 2004, unit detectives have investigated 106 slayings and solved all but four of them. Two homicides this year have yet to result in an arrest. However, detectives said they’re closing in on possible suspects in those killings.
According to FBI statistics, 91 percent of the murders investigated by the Police Department between 2000 and 2008 have been solved. On average since 1980, the department has had an 87 percent homicide clearance rate, compared with the national average of 63 percent.
The article goes on to credit the detectives’ tireless dedication, but that’s probably not a very good explanation—plenty of city’s have homicide investigators who give it their all. My hunch is that there is something about the nature of the cases in El Paso that makes them easier to solve. The story does flick at the fact that the city’s cops enjoy an unusual amount of cooperation from witnesses, though it doesn’t offer a convincing reason as to why that’s the case. Do El Paso residents feel more immune to intimidation than people in comparably sized cities? And if so, is that a product of a social mechanism that condemns omertà? Someone with criminological chops far greater than Microkhan’s, please shed some light.