With the number of murders in the city rising to 319, the highest in six years, overtime spending has simultaneously been cut, leading detectives, union officials and even prosecutors to cry foul. In 2016, just 1 out of 3 murders was solved. In 2010, the rate was much higher–2 out of 3. The homicide unit’s clearance rate tumbled to 32 percent in 2016 from a peak of 66 percent in 2010. The conflict also strikes a painful nerve with relatives of victims who have long feared that their loved ones’ cases will become lost amid the growing number of murder scenes across the city.
“Why the hell would their overtime be cut?” asked Yullio Robbins, whose son, James Walke III, was fatally shot in Germantown in 2016, a killing that remains unsolved. “Oh my God.”
“We…had to make some belt-tightening adjustments across the department, not just homicide,” Commissioner Ross explained. “It’s important to underscore that this is not directed at one unit.”
The number of police officers on the force has also grown from about 6,100 in recent years to 6,525; Ross hopes to get the department up to 6,725. More officers, in theory, means less need for overtime.
Ryan, who has been in charge of homicide since July 2017, put it bluntly: “The city’s money is tight.”