Would More Black Detectives Help FWPD Solve More Homicides?

By Jeff Neumeyer

January 23, 2013 Updated Jan 23, 2013 at 7:11 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) --- More than two-thirds of the victims in Fort Wayne homicide cases last year were black males.

But only one of the city's lead homicide detectives is African American.

Could the solve rate on those crimes be boosted if more black officers were investigating them?

We sat down with Fort Wayne Police Chief Rusty York to discuss the issue.

In more than half of the killings from 2012, charges still have not been filed.

Of the 28 homicide cases in the city of Fort Wayne from last year, according to the Allen County Coroner's Office, 19 involved black male victims.

FWPD employs 65 detectives, and 15 of them are black, but only one of 6 lead homicide detectives is black.

Nothing about this story is intended to suggest that race determines who is a good detective or a bad one.

But are there some inherent advantages to having minority officers working cases where the victims, and possibly many of the witnesses, are of the same race?

Chief York doesn't dispute that notion, but he isn't sure the department can do much to influence the situation.

" Do I think what you're saying would be beneficial? I do. You know, I've certainly heard that from the community as well. The investigators have to want to go into the homicide division and it's their choice. You know, we can't force somebody to do that," Chief York said.

He says the demands on homicide detectives are great, and that some officers shy away from that duty, partly because of long hours, stress and burnout.

He counters by saying when a homicide happens, other officers provide assistance, and that minority officers often play complimentary roles right now in those investigations.

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