Counting homicide cases in D.C.

In December, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier announced that her department has achieved a 94 percent closure rate for homicides in 2011. But a close look at the case by The Washington Post reveals that police closed 62 of 108 homicides that year, a 57 percent rate. Lanier's department achieved the higher rate by including about 40 cases from earlier years that were closed in 2011. The chief says FBI guidelines allow her to count cases that way.

108 D.C. homicides in 2011

The District had its lowest yearly homicide total in nearly 50 years.

  • = Homicide case

94.4% of cases closed according to D.C. police

Chief Lanier's office reported that 102 of 108 cases were closed, an exceptionally high closure rate.

  • = Case closed in 2011

40 cases from previous years

D.C. police included about 40 homicide cases from previous years
that were closed in 2011, resulting in the higher closure rate.

57.4% of actual 2011 cases closed

A Washington Post analysis of homicides committed in 2011 reveals the actual number of cases
solved for the calendar year is 62, far less than Chief Lanier's report.

A tale of two rates

Here are examples of how closure rates
vary if police departments include
homicide cases from previous years
that were closed in 2011 in that
year's closure rate.

The trick to D.C. police force's 94% closure rate for 2011 homicides

D.C. police force's 94% closure rate

For the past two months, D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier has touted the city's astronomically high homicide closure rate -- 94 percent for 2011 -- and warned anyone contemplating murder in the District to think twice.

SOURCE: D.C. Police Department, Baltimore Police Department, Prince George's County Police Department, FBI. GRAPHIC: Wilson Andrews, Todd Lindeman and Cheryl Thompson - The Washington Post. Published Feb 19, 2012.