Police overreach, brutality, and killings are just one part of black American frustration with their Police Departments. The other is the massive ineffectiveness in solving or stopping violent crime.
On the morning of March 11, 2008, shortly after the bus picked up his twin brothers for preschool, Emill Smith stopped by the house of his mother, Valerie Maxwell, in Chester, Pennsylvania. At 22, he was stocky and athletic, with dark eyes, faint facial hair, and a cursive tattoo on his right hand: “R.I.P. James,” in memory of his father, who died in his sleep when Emill was 12. They talked for a while, and he asked if he could pick the twins up from school that afternoon so they could spend time together.
That afternoon, Emill took the four-year-olds to McDonald’s and his place before dropping them off at Valerie’s: “They almost set the apartment on fire,” he joked. “Here, you can have them.” As he walked out, he stopped.
“I love you.”
“I love you more.”
At 7:15 p.m. that night, Valerie dialed Emill’s number to make sure he was home in time for his 7:30 curfew, part of his probation for disorderly conduct in a domestic dispute. No answer. A few minutes later, one of Emill’s friends rushed in and collapsed.
Emill had been to a neighborhood bar, where a security camera recorded him dancing, hanging out by the pool table, and kissing an old friend on the forehead before leaving. As he got into his car, someone walked up and shot him several times. No one was ever arrested in connection with the crime, and odds are no one will be. That’s because, while Chester has one of the nation’s highest homicide rates, it has a far lower than average “clearance rate.” Not even one-third of last year’s 30 homicides have been solved, a rate less than half the national average. Since 2005, 144 killings have gone unsolved.
FOR GENERATIONS, BLACK frustration with policing has been best described in a two-part statement: Cops don’t care enough to solve crimes in our neighborhoods—they just come and harass our kids. NovelistWalter Mosley even built a best-selling detective series around a tough private investigator who does all the serving and protecting that cops won’t do on the black side of town.
The bitter irony is that it was this same complaint that helped spawn the aggressive policing tactics now under attack from Ferguson to New York City. In the 1980s, when crack and heroin syndicates swept through black neighborhoods, black parents and pastors were some of the first and loudest voices to demand a war on drugs. What they got was “broken windows” policing—an emphasis on curbing petty offenses to prevent more serious crime.
What they also got were mandatory minimum sentences for shoplifters, indiscriminate stop-and-frisk sweeps, and deadly choke holds on men selling loose cigarettes. There’s little evidence that these tactics contributed much to the national decline in crime. But they did erode trust in law enforcement across many communities—leaving places like Chester increasingly bereft of the protection they badly need. With residents both fearful of police and worried about being targeted for talking to them, detectives can’t find the witnesses they need to solve crimes, breeding further distrust and a vicious cycle of frustration. A 2014 New York Daily News investigation found that in 2013, police solved about 86 percent of homicides in which the victim was white. For black victims, the number was just 45 percent. And in high-minority communities like Chester, says David Kennedy, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, clearance rates for murder—and even more so for nonfatal shootings—can get “pathetically low. They can easily fall down to single digits.”…Read the Rest Here…