DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Des Moines saw the highest number of homicides in nearly 40 years in 2017, according to police data.
The 25 homicides last year in Iowa’s largest city is the greatest amount since 1978, when 27 people were killed.
Law enforcement officials attribute many of the homicides to soured personal relationships, gang-related violence and a trend of young adults using guns to solve conflicts and social media disputes, The Des Moines Register reported .
Police Chief Dana Wingert said “conflict resolution has gone to the extreme” in Des Moines and other places.
Fifteen of the people killed in 2017 were shot, six were stabbed, two were beaten or bludgeoned, one was strangled and one was intentionally set on fire, according to police data.
The Police Department cleared 72 percent of the city’s homicides that occurred in 2017, an increase from its 57 percent homicide clearance rate in 2016. No one has been arrested or identified as responsible in seven of last year’s 25 killings. A clearance doesn’t mean a suspect has been prosecuted.
Wingert said that only a couple dozen residents commit violent crimes in the city. He said the department often sees a reduction in certain crimes after authorities arrest two or three violent criminals.
The data also found that more residents are reporting shots fired by calling 911. In 2016, the department received nearly 1,400 calls, compared to almost 790 in 2012.
Polk County Attorney John Sarcone said authorities still deal with their share of cases in which people won’t cooperate - even family members who know the person or people responsible for killing their loved one.
“We could solve many of these cases if people would just tell us the truth,” Sarcone said.
Information from: The Des Moines Register, http://www.desmoinesregister.com
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