Our View: We all have a role to play in fighting crime


Rocky Mount Telegram

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The raw numbers reported in a recent Telegram story were grim enough. Of 16 homicides investigated by Rocky Mount police in 2017, the victim in every single case was a black male. Eleven of the victims were 30 years old or younger. The youngest was 16.

Those are hardly the numbers any community wants to wake up to. They are consistent with national trends that sadly show much of America’s homicide problem involves young black men, both as victims and as suspects.

But before someone looks at the statistics and makes a blanket statement about race and crime, consider another tragic number, one that points to all of us.

Of the 16 homicides investigated in 2017 by Rocky Mount police, only five to date have been resolved with the arrest of one or more people. That’s right. Not even a third of the murder cases that occurred in our community last year have been solved.

That number isn’t unique to Rocky Mount, either. Chicago has a 12.7 percent murder clearance rate. New York City’s isn’t much better.

We can raise questions with police chiefs and local politicians, but aside from the homicide itself, the real crime is the failure of communities all over the country to step up and help police make our streets safer for everyone.

Are we really to believe that of 16 homicides that occurred in Rocky Mount last year, no one in Rocky Mount knows anything about 11 of the crimes?

Keeping quiet about the details of a murder compounds the tragedy for the victims and their families. It frustrates police to no end. And it actually makes our community even more dangerous. Why should someone be discouraged to commit murder when 11 of 16 homicides in a single year remain unsolved?

Rocky Mount police can collect forensic evidence, review videos, talk to persons of interest and hypothesize all they want. If someone doesn’t step forward to say, “That’s the person who did it,” those long hours of investigation and expense will do little to make our community any safer.

Friendlier neighborhoods, quieter streets and safer schools start with all of us. If you know something, call the police. If you know someone else who knows something, encourage that person to do the same. Make your neighbors your heroes by helping police do their jobs.

Otherwise, the edge in the war on crime will continue to belong to the criminals and not the law-abiding citizenry of Rocky Mount.