HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - If you’ve killed someone in Huntsville this year, odds are you’ve faced the justice system.
Huntsville police Capt. Mike Izzo oversees the criminal investigation division and said his office has “cleared” all nine criminal homicide cases so far in 2019. A clearance means enough evidence was gathered to make an arrest.
It does not reflect what, if any, sentence the arrested individual serves. The sentencing is handled in the courts.
The reported 100 percent clearance rate so far this year reflects a jump from 2018, where the department reported a 81.48 percent clearance rate (27 cases, 22 cleared).
The most recent national clearance rate (in 2017) for criminal homicides is 61.6 percent.
Izzo credits the HPD team, the community and the department’s relationship with city leaders for the clearances.
“If you commit a crime in Huntsville, Alabama you’ll going to go to jail, we’re going to catch you, because that’s what we do,” he said.
It’s unclear how Huntsville stacks up with the three other major cities in Alabama.
In 2018, the Mobile Police department self-reported 28 homicide cases, with four remaining uncleared (85.71 percent).
WAFF 48 News was unable to find police department reports outlining the clearance rate for either Birmingham or Montgomery.
Homicide Survivors Program director Kim Crawford said Huntsville Police do a good job communicating with victims, but the arrest of a suspect is only one step of the coping process.
Her sister died after a drunk driver struck the car she was riding in.
“In a way, [the arrest] is never going to bring my sister back, it’s never going to bring any of the other survivors’ family members back,” she said.
“When you go to trial, when they are arrested, he, just like the other murderers, they get to live their life. Whether it’s in jail or out of jail."
Crawford credited Huntsville Police Chief Mark McMurray for his willingness to listen to her suggestions and the way the department does what it can to comfort victims.
However, evidence collection process can remain challenging for families.
“As a survivor it’s very hard because you want to know those answers. You want to know why can’t I have their cellphone back, why can’t I have those clothes back. Whatever it is they might’ve taken from their loved one,” she said.
The Huntsville Police Department reports a clearance rate higher than the national average across the board.
It reports the following statistics from 2018:
- Forcible rape: 62.8 percent clearance (34.5 percent national average)
- Robbery: 55.38 percent (29.7 percent)
- Aggravated Assault: 76.87 percent (53.3 percent)
- Burglary: 18.52 percent (13.5 percent)
- Larceny-Theft (not motor vehicles): 37.77 percent (19.2 percent)
- Motor vehicle theft: 46.56 percent (13.7 percent)