Killers are likely to get away with murder in several major cities within the San Francisco Bay Area. The problem is that insufficient resources have been assigned to combat deteriorating murder clearance rates -- a problem facing police in much of the nation.
But an experimental partnership between the Oakland Police Department and the FBI has both underscored the problem and demonstrated the solution to America's declining homicide clearances. (Under the U.S. Justice Department's definition, a homicide is considered "cleared" if a suspect has been arrested and handed over for trial in a court of law.)
Oakland suffered murder clearance rates as low at 31 percent in recent years. So to augment the city's 10 overwhelmed full-time homicide investigators, the FBI assigned five special agents to assist the caseload that includes many gangland and drug-related killings. In recent months, the clearance rate has shot up to more than 60 percent.
"The FBI just came in and, along with those detectives, with the increased personnel -- it just gave them additional resources to focus on the problem," said FBI supervisory agent Bertram Fairies.
The Murder Accountability Project assisted ABC's San Francisco affiliate KGO in identifying the under-performing police departments in the San Francisco Bay Area. The purpose was to help spotlight the importance of the Oakland/FBI partnership.