HUNTSVILLE, Ala. - Everyone wants to live in a city that secures an arrest, indictment, or no-bill by the grand jury for the crimes committed. In looking at Huntsville Police's latest numbers from the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting database, the city should feel confident.
Wednesday morning began with the fourth homicide in Huntsville this year. A 19-year-old man was killed in a shooting at the Brixworth at Bridge Street Apartments.
"We want to give closure to these victims and it's important that we have a high clearance rate," Capt. Mike Izzo said of all crimes that happen in the city.
Capt. Izzo leads the criminal investigations division of the department. He says his team cuts no corners when it comes to finding the person responsible for a crime, no matter the crime.
"If someone is purchasing a narcotic and they get robbed in the process of the person with narcotics, they're still a victim of a crime and we treat them as such," Izzo explained. "If we had 150 robberies, 100 of those might be in consolidation with another crime."
The latest numbers from the FBI's database show Huntsville Police cleared 82.1 percent of its homicide cases by arrest, indictment or no-bill from the grand jury in 2018. That's 23 clearances of 28 homicides cases.
The most recently reported national average, from 2017, is 61.6 percent, more than 20 percent less than Huntsville.
"It shows the work effort of the investigative unit and the outstanding job our uniform patrol officers are doing," Izzo said.
According to the data from the FBI, Huntsville Police have maintained a higher homicide cases clearance rate than the national numbers for at least six years. Huntsville's 2017 clearance rate for criminal homicide was 94.45 percent.
For rape cases, Huntsville's officers are also way ahead of the national average. They report clearing 103 cases of 164.
"We're at 62.8 percent. The national average is 34 percent," Izzo stated.
Huntsville Police have maintained a higher clearance rate for rape cases than the national rate for at least six years. Their clearance rate in 2017 was 79.53 percent vs. 2018's 62.8 percent.
The department also underscores their robbery case clearance. Their rate is 55.38 percent. The national average is 29.7 percent.
Huntsville Police have had a higher clearance rate of robbery cases than the national rate from 2013-2018. 55.38 percent is the highest it's been for at least six years.
"That's a big difference compared to the national average," Izzo said.
For aggravated assault, the reports shows Huntsville Police cleared 841 of 1,094 cases. Their clearance rate for this crime is 76.87% and the national average is 53.3%. This is the highest clearance rate Huntsville has had for this crime in the past six years. The department has had a higher rate than the national average each of those years.
Mike Eichhorn is the numbers guy with this division serving as the crime analysis investigator. He says the data is vital to continuing to make arrests in these cases and provide closure to victims.
Eichhorn says it also puts officers in the places they're needed.
"Are our efforts that we think are working, are they actually working?" Eichorn explained.
Izzo said sometimes one arrest will clear many cases.
"Someone commits 30 burglaries in the city and county and they're arrested in the county, we'll be able to clear our case by other prosecution," Izzo explained.
Also, the investigators said even if a crime happens, it does not always mean the victims want someone arrested, like if it's family-on-family incidents.
Eichhorn also says the investigators will continue working a case until they have exhausted all leads. Then, depending on the case and therefore the statute of limitations, the case can be reopened if someone comes forward with more information, which could lead to an arrest.
Eichhorn says the department is working with new technology and new software which is helping them solve more crimes, even ones that are years old. He did not go into what those programs and devices are specifically so the information does not wind up in the wrong hands.
Capt. Izzo tells WHNT News 19 the department meets with agencies across the area monthly and they share reports among the precincts weekly.