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by Peter Moskos

January 4, 2016

Black lives matter to homicide detectives

The homicide board downtown. I have to admit, when I first walked by it, I had to do a double take, thinking, "it really does exist!"

That's a lot of red.

From Justin Fenton's five part series on a homicide investigation.

16 comments:

Adam said...

BPD trivia: what does the blue lettering mean?

Peter Moskos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter Moskos said...

That's my (temporarily deleted) comment, above. But I'm curious what other people will guess. I actually don't remember for certain (but I'm pretty sure I'm correct).

campbell said...

Almost none of them in blue, so something that's a small percentage of the caseload. Blue for a cold case?

Adam said...

Good guess, but no.

Noumenon said...

Murdered one of the boys in blue? But I don't see a Baltimore police officer being killed since Troy Chesley in 2007. That can't be it.

Peter Moskos said...

Come on, team. Get this one right!

Noumenon said...

What is the word that comes before everybody's name, same length for everyone? A case number?

Maybe someone going to federal prison? Maybe someone from a Most Wanted list?

Adam said...

The word to the left is the H number. It's the two-digit year, followed by the letter "H" (for homicide), followed by whatever number homicide victim that person is for that year. So the 300th person killed in 2015 is designated "15H300."

Nobody is getting warm on the blue lettering yet, but I'll at least wait for Peter to offer his guess...

campbell said...

Again, has to be something that sets it apart from the majority of the others. So, if black is a regular clearance, blue for an exceptional clearance?

Adam said...

Almost! But (I believe) some exceptional clearances are written in black. For example, if the detective makes a case against a particular suspect, but then the perp dies before can be arrested, the victim's name just goes black.

Alex Elkins said...

A case that has been reopened? A case that was open for years but has been closed this year?

Peter Moskos said...

I was totally going for "exceptional clearance." Someone needs to bust open Homicide: Life on the Streets. I'm pretty sure Simon explains it in that book.

Adam said...

Okay, I think I've dragged this out long enough. Blue is for a justifiable homicide. Exceptional clearances, at least as defined by the UCR, just make the name go black. Because the Homicide Unit handles -- or at least used to handle -- all police-involved shootings, the names of people justifiably shot and killed by police officers would be on the board in blue. But any victim killed justifiably (by a citizen acting in self defense, for example) will be listed in blue.

Adam said...

That blue name in the third column appears to be Ryan Martin.

Peter Moskos said...

That was fun. Thanks! Next time hopefully I'll get it right.