Why do rural police solve more murders than urban police?

MPR News reporter Brandt Williams’ fine report today on the number of unsolved murders in Minneapolis made somebody here ask how outstate Minnesota compares.

I didn’t go back as far as Brandt did but, for the record, 16 murders were reported outside the Twin Cities area in 2011. Police and sheriff departments solved 15 of them.

Why the high clearance rate? Peter Vogel, a Little Falls resident and a member of our Public Insight Network, told us this a couple weeks ago when we asked about crime problems in his area:

“Because most crimes, except burglaries, involve people known to each other, they are usually solved quickly. When there is a homicide, there is rarely a question of who committed it.”

Makes sense to me, but there’s always another view or at least a question. Ralph Weisheit, criminal justice professor at Illinois State University, told reporter Jennifer Vogel this:

“Here is the interesting thing about the murder clearance rates. If it’s true that a murder in a rural area is more likely to be among people who know each other (and this does appear to be true and it would make the crime easier to solve), why were the clearance rates for rural and urban about the same in the mid-60s? A mystery indeed.”

  • Barbara Peterson

    I’m just thinking…this from a rural gal, that this is sort of a no brainer to me. Look at who the homicides victims usually are. Rural homicides are more likely to be people known to each other through family or personal aquaintances. Because of this, people in the family/community want to cooperate and willingly give information. Most urban homicides are gang/drug related and the perpetrators are probably known to the gangs. They certainly do not cooperate with police. People in the community are not always willing to talk to police out of fear, and don’t necessarily want to get involved. The gangs control the urban areas today.

    The 60’s did not have this bad of gangs/drug problem or control of the urban areas that they do today.