As forensic technology is becoming more advanced, police across the country are solving fewer homicides. The FBI maintains records on murder clearances rates which refer to the percentages of murders that are solved in any given year. When murder clearance rates were first documented in the early 1960’s, about 90% of murders were solved. According to the latest FBI figures, just over 60% of murders were solved in 2007. Over that time period, the annual number of murders reported in the U.S. have increased from 4,566 to 14,811.
The decrease in the murder clearance rates can be attributed to a number of factors. In the past, more murders were committed by people who knew or had some connection with the victim. With the increase of gang and drug related murders, murders have increasingly been committed by people who had no or little connection to the victim making it more difficult to solve. When the murderer and the victim are related or otherwise acquainted, it is often easier for police to establish a suspect by analyzing motive and opportunity. Another factor is that witnesses have become less likely to give statements to police and testify in court. In some communities, people are becoming very proactive in letting residents know that if they talk to the police about a crime, there would be serious repercussions. Whatever CSI techniques may be available, witness testimony is still a critical part of most criminal investigations.