Tucson homicide, clearance rates up

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TUCSON, Ariz. -- Representatives from the Tucson police said during the election last year that less cops meant more crime.  As of right now, they're correct.

Fifteen murders in Tucson so far this year. Fifteen lives cut short.

Police report Tucson's homicide total for 2011 is higher than at this time last year.

"Last year we were at 12 homicides and this year were at 15, so slightly above," said Sgt. Diana Lopez from the Tucson Police Department.

And Tucson police say the motives for this year's murders are a little different from last year.

"Last year we had a lot of narcotic related, gang type related," said Sgt. Lopez.  "This year we're seeing a lot of known affiliates with assault rate, people who knew each other or got in a fight or something happened."

Last year we had a total of 55 homicides, and 33 of those we're solved.  This year we've had 15, with only 4 have unsolved at this point.

That's almost 15% increase for the clearance rate over last year.  Police hope to keep up that pace, but admit it's difficult.

"Not having as many officers on the street, we're more reactive.  We'd like to be more active," said Sgt. Lopez.  "We're hoping sometime in the future we'll get staffing back up."

And predicting the final number we'll see this year is anyone's guess.

"It's hard to tell without it being the end of the year yet if were gonna be close to numbers," said Lopez.

Homicides are also up for the Pima County Sheriffs department. They've had nine so far this year compared to six at the same time in 2010.  But that includes six from the January 8 mass shooting.