NEW YORK—Doulene John’s son Kellan John was gunned down last January on the front steps of their home in East Flatbush. A woman injured by the gunfire saw the face of the shooter before he fled. Four months later, the NYPD issued a sketch of the murderer. A year later, the case remains unsolved.
“I know my son is not ever going to come back,” said Ms. John. “It’s a very hard pill for me to swallow, but when this person is brought to justice, then I can get peace. He is still at large.”
Sadly, Kellan is only one of people who succumbed to gun violence in neighborhoods with high homicide rates. Most murders like such remain unsolved.
The Daily News recently published an article that revealed the NYPD assigns more homicide detectives per case in Manhattan than other boroughs. Councilman Jumaane Williams joined relatives of murder victims to call for the the NYPD to address the disparity.
“There’s nothing you can tell a mother who has lost a child that can help,” said Williams. “The thing to hang on to is getting some kind of justice. And I would tell them the police are working on it and giving the best amount of resources they can to solve these murders so there can be some semblance of peace. As I read this article, I was wondering to myself, was I lying to them.”
According to statistics provided by the Daily News, 10 murders occurred in Manhattan South in 2013 and 156 detectives were assigned in that jurisdiction, which averages at 15.6 detectives per murder. In contrast, in Queens, there were 63 murders within that same time frame and 251 detectives assigned. That is only 4 detectives per murder.
The number is even lower in the Bronx and in Brooklyn. In the past year, the Bronx had 80 murders and each of those had 3.1 detectives investigating it. Brooklyn North had the most number of murders, 86, but only 206 assigned detectives, which is 2.4 detectives per murder, the lowest in the city.
As a result, 6 in the 10 murders in Manhattan South were closed, but only 40 out of the 86 murders in Brooklyn North were closed.
“This clearly cries out for an examination,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “The NYPD is bringing down crime rates in precincts over 40 percent in the last decades, but the truth is that many outer borough precincts continue to experience not only above average crime rates but crimes that remain unsolved years on end.”
Mothers with children killed in homicides demanded that more detectives be assigned to outer boroughs so that the murderers can be brought to justice.
“Finding my son’s killer, or killers, and bringing them to justice would be much more a reality if resources are allocated to that,” said Donna Rayside, whose son Dustin Yeates was shot and killed in East Flatbush.
Councilman Williams previously met with high ranking police officials in a meeting arranged by Police Commissioner Bill Bratton and mayor Bill de Blasio. The police department said that the numbers presented by Daily news were not entirely accurate, but promised to assess the issue.
Yi Yang is a special correspondent in New York.