Justice and safety, together

Regarding the important article by Chris Palmer in the Inquirer on the decline in homicide clearance rates in Philadelphia, More Than Half of Philly's Murders Go Unsolved:

Safety is not achieved by abandoning rights, as old school law enforcement loves to claim (consistent with their agenda of eliminating individual rights). The choice between safety and rights is and always has been false.

Safety is achieved through justice, which means honoring individual rights. It's both—safety and justice, not 'either safety or justice'. Here, Philadelphia's low homicide investigation clearance rates directly result from distrust between police and the neighborhoods they protect—neighbors whose rights have been disregarded too often by law enforcement.

Specifically, this distrust is rooted in so-called "stop and frisk" and police brutality that those neighborhoods have known for generations (which is now confirmed for people living elsewhere via cell phone and other video). When neighbors who have information on homicides trust police, they provide information. Distrust means the information is not provided. These modern techniques work all over the country in cities with high homicide clearance rates and they will work here because they build trust between police and the neighborhoods they serve that has been undermined by divisive police policies.

Commissioner Ross and his supporters are to be commended for their commitment to progress in the police department via requiring videotaped witness statements and confessions, and requiring modern identification and forensic techniques. Commissioner Ross's positions are widely supported by many Assistant District Attorneys in Philly, many police brass, and younger rank and file officers who are anti-corruption and disapprove of abusive police tactics that are part of a status quo culture they want to disinherit.

Obviously, more needs to be done. Staffing is low and must be increased, which is underway. More resources must be committed to modern forensic techniques, rather than wasting those resources on over-incarceration and unnecessary prosecution of people whose cases should be diverted. Also tracking convictions resulting from a fair trial system (rather than clearance rates, which essentially tracks arrests) will give us a better indication of what portion of homicide investigations result in capture of the perpetrator rather than a suspect who may be guilty or innocent.