Jacksonville police struggle to solve murders

Nearly two-thirds of murders in Jacksonville in recent years still unsolved

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The six deaths from gun violence since Thursday brings the number of murders in Jacksonville in just the first six weeks of the year to 21, based on News4Jax records. Of those, only seven have been solved. according to data from the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

That 33 percent "clearance rate" is about average for murder cases worked by the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office in recent years.

Pastor R.L. Gundy said he thinks the rate of unsolved murders has a lot to do with the city's gang problem, which he says city leaders didn't fully acknowledge until it was too late. 

"They were told when (Mayor John) Peyton was in office that we had gangs," Gunday said. "They told me we don't have any, and now they see, when you don't give the community the attention, you don't build the economic, this is the result of not taking care of your community, collectively."

Gundy said he thinks the city's murder solve rate would increase if gang shooters were brought to justice.

The I-TEAM reviewed all the murders JSO has investigated since the start of 2017 and found that about two-thirds of them remain unsolved.

According to what the Sheriff's Office calls its transparency portal, 44 of the 115 murders in Jacksonville in 2017 were solved, for a 38 percent clearance rate.

In 2018, 32 of 105 murders committed were solved by the Sheriff's Office, or a 30 percent clearance rate.

Clearance rate of Jacksonville murders

According to a Vox review of FBI data, 61.6 percent of murders in America in 2017 were cleared by arrest or other means. A Washington Post analysis of killings over the last decade in 52 of America's largest cities found a disparity in the clearance rate based on the race of the victim.

"While police arrested someone in 63 percent of the killings of white victims, they did so in just 47 percent of those with black victims," according to the Post.

Recently reported on that disparity for the Washington Post. In an analysis of killings over the past decade in 52 of the US’s largest cities, the Post found that “black victims, who accounted for the majority of homicides, were the least likely of any racial group to have their killings result in an arrest. ... While police arrested someone in 63 percent of the killings of white victims, they did so in just 47 percent of those with black victims.”

Gundy is not placing the blame solely on police, but on the community as well. 

"We need to change our streets from battlegrounds to playgrounds," Gundy said. "A part of this is our fault because we haven’t taken care of our community as we should. So I’m not putting (it) on JSO or on the mayor. I'm saying, collectively, we've got to come together and fix this issue."

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