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story.lead_photo.caption FILE — A Little Rock Police Department vehicle is shown in this file photo.

With a month left in the year, Little Rock homicide detectives have already investigated as many homicides in 2019 as in all of 2018, but law enforcement data says investigators are making arrests in more of them.

In 2018, there were 43 homicides in Little Rock, according to previous data. The double-slaying of Shameika Eason, 35, and Mallida Webb, 36, on Nov. 12 were the 42nd and 43rd homicides of 2019. Little Rock homicide detective Troy Dillard, however, said the clearance rate of 2019 homicides has risen from 60% to more than 80%.

The FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting program tracks homicides and arrests across the United States. In 2018, the homicide clearance national average was 62.5%. A homicide is "cleared" when a suspect has been arrested and charged or if the verified suspect is dead.

Dillard said he believes an increase in community input is the reason behind Little Rock's rising clearance rate.

"This year we've gotten way more tips, families are tremendously more cooperative and it shows. It's been way above average," Dillard said. "It's literally due to the phone calls we're getting. I think they're fed up with the crime and they really want to feel safer. I think that's the difference."

Little Rock's property crime rate has decreased by 9% overall across the city, with a 13% drop in burglaries and breaking and enterings, a 9% drop in larceny and theft and a 7% decrease in motor vehicle theft, according to a department data report generated on Nov. 18.

"What's really driving our [overall] numbers is property crime is down across the board," said Lt. Steve McClanahan.

[INTERACTIVE MAP: Search all killings in Little Rock, North Little Rock this year at arkansasonline.com/2019homicides]

Little Rock's clearance rates also exceed the national average in property crime, said McClanahan, who oversees the Northwest Division's special assignments unit. The FBI's average property crime clearance rate in 2018 was approximately 15%, whereas McClanahan said the local statistic is more than 20%.

McClanahan, who oversees seven detectives, three community oriented policing officers and a sergeant, agreed that an increase in community input has helped investigators lower property crime rates and solve cases faster.

"Crime is not just a problem for the police, it's a community problem," McClanahan said. "I really think this is 21st century policing at work."

The United States Department of Justice issued a presidential report in May 2015 outlining the 21st century policing philosophy. The report, written during the Obama administration, outlines six "pillars" of bettering law enforcement practices and procedures with a focus on community relations.

McClanahan said more neighborhood watches, more people calling in tips and more people talking with police officers contributes to the decrease in crime.

"What I like to say is we love nosy neighbors," McClanahan said, smiling. "People who notice when something's wrong with their neighbors ... that's what we like to see."

McClanahan said that, though the numbers are lower for 2019, he wanted to caution citizens to take extra precautions around the holidays, when property crime tends to spike.

"Lock your doors, lock your car doors," McClanahan said. "If you have expensive jewelry, take a picture of it. If you have expensive technology, write down the serial number and put it somewhere safe. Especially around the holidays."

The Little Rock Police Department has eight homicide detectives, and Dillard said every available detective responds to each homicide to ensure they collect as much evidence as possible and to speak to witnesses or neighbors. After the initial crime scene is processed, two detectives take over the remainder of the investigation. This year, Dillard has been the lead detective on six homicides, each of which has been cleared.

When one of the cases is cleared, Dillard said detectives pitch in on unsolved or other ongoing investigations.

The Little Rock Police Department removes slayings that the Pulaski County prosecuting attorney ruled as justified from its yearly homicide count, meaning the department's count for homicides in 2019 is 40. The number of homicides in total for 2018 was 40, according to Little Rock Police Department data.

Seven of the homicides in 2019 are still unsolved. Dillard said detectives are still receiving tips for those cases.

"We're still getting tips all the time on those," he said. "It's exactly what we need. I don't want to sound cliche, but we can't do this without the community."

Metro on 12/02/2019

Print Headline: Little Rock homicides in '19 outpace killings in '18

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