The Crusader Newspaper Group

Top cop admits homicide clearance rates wrong, dodges Crusader’s questions

Supt. Larry Snelling

Two weeks ago, the Crusader ran a story on its front page under the headline, “Supt. Snelling says the clearance rate in 2024 is 74 percent.” 

As it turned out, that figure was wrong. Chicago Police Superintendent Larry Snelling recently admitted he made a “mistake” and gave the wrong numbers. 

The city’s top cop did this not once, not twice, but three times at meetings that occurred at events last month in Chicago. 

During the editing process, it appeared something was fishy. Clearance rates in the Chicago Police Department historically have hovered around 17 to 18 percent. But Snelling raised eyebrows when he said it was 74 percent during an event at the Union League Club in Chicago on January 31. 

That’s not what Snelling is touting today. 

The numbers he initially gave were wrong, and confusion has set in. The new homicide clearance rate involves 19 murders, 16 of which were committed last year and not in January. That leaves three murders in January, not 26 as Snelling reported at the event the Crusader covered. 

The Department is not saying whether those three murders that occurred in January have been cleared or have led to arrests and charges. 

So, what’s the homicide clearance rate in January, the rate Snelling should have given the well-heeled crowd at the Union League Club in Chicago? Definitely not 74 percent. That figure remains uncertain. 

Snelling called it a “mistake,” but questions remain after the top cop pushed unbelievably high clearance rates to business leaders downtown, and to a group of individuals on the West Side the day before. 

Today, questions remain unanswered as to how his Department came up with a whopping 74- percent clearance rate that’s more than three times the Department’s reported rate for solving murders. 

Some of those questions were asked by the Crusader in an email sent to the Department.This publication requested to speak with Supt. Snelling about the “mistake” and included some questions in the email. Instead, the Department sent a disingenuous statement that included the much lower clearance figure, buried in the text. 

But first came this statement from Snelling: 

“This was my miscommunication and I own it. My goal in discussing these cases was to bring attention to the victims and communities plagued by the trauma of violence. My miscommunication should not overshadow the great work being done by the Bureau of Detectives to bring justice to the victims and a measure of closure to their families.” 

Snelling then gives new homicide figures. He said 16 murders occurred last year and three occurred in January. But last month, Snelling gave different figures that said 26 murders occurred in January, and 20 of those cases were cleared or led to arrests and charges, creating a 74-percent clearance rate. 

The Crusader fell for it and printed it. So did the Sun-Times, which on Friday, February 9, published a follow-up story where Snelling admitted he made a “mistake” and gave the wrong numbers, and many of those murders he initially cited did not occur in January as originally reported. 

A Crusader journalist on January 31 recorded Snelling during his speech at the luncheon at the Union League Club, where he emphatically said the clearance rate was 74 percent after his Department solved 20 out of 26 murders that occurred in January. 

Snelling later repeated those numbers during a question-and-answer segment where a guest asked what timeframe those murders occurred. 

A day earlier, Snelling gave similar numbers at a public safety forum on Chicago’s West Side. Snelling told the crowd the clearance rate was even higher, at 76 percent, after his Department solved 19 out of 25 murders that occurred in January. 

With pressure building to reduce crime ahead of this year’s Democratic National Convention, Snelling after a few months on the job is trying to impress with inflated clearance rates that the Department hasn’t seen in a long time. 

His statement even included other impressively high clearance rates that the Crusader will not publish because they can’t be verified independently. The Department has a history of creating distrust when it comes to accurately reporting crime statistics. 

Snelling’s admission of making a “mistake” seems to have come to light through a Sun-Times request to release more data on those 26 murder cases that Snelling initially said had been committed in January. 

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