The Chicago Police Department recently launched a video series on its social media channels attempting to solve cold cases and educate the public.
According to CPD Superintendent David Brown, the goal of the series is to find “answers and closure.” In addition to helping to solve cold cases, Brown said the series is intended to educate the public and change the perception that race affects the way cold cases are investigated.
Brown said the idea came from discussions with Mayor Lori Lightfoot about clearance rates.
“That led to cold case discussions about how even the older cases are important to solve,” he said. “But also the old cases are important to deal with the perceptions that these stories are told from generation to generation to generation in the community — that the Chicago Police Department doesn’t treat our cases in various communities the same as they treat other cases.”
So far, the department has produced six videos that will be released on a once-per-week basis.
Brown said the first two episodes will examine the West Side murders of Elizabeth Dunlap and the double homicide of Lizzie and Lucretia Lee. He explained that detectives selected cases with a diverse range of victim demographics where leads have dried up.
Deputy Chief of Detectives Rahman Muhammad said that about six to eight detectives are assigned to cold-case teams in each of the five police areas. Each detective has about 10 to 12 cases each, and was tasked with supplying cases they thought would be good for the video series. Police then reached out to family members of victims to see whether they would like to be involved.
Muhammad said police told family members that they are still working on the case, but that they had hit a wall during the investigation and believe the series can help generate leads.
“We wanted to jump-start the investigation, and by doing that, we wanted to highlight and put out there into the public sphere the case itself, and hope with [the family’s] participation, which was definitely hugely important, because when you see these videos, and you see the pain, suffering and grief that they still have … it was still like it was yesterday,” Muhammad explained.
Brown said that he hopes the series will shed a light on the importance of detectives in violent crime units. At its highest point, the department had a budget for 1,300 detectives, but currently only has funding for 1,100 detectives.
“We want to get back to 1,300 detectives,” he said. “The timing of all of what we’re doing is in context with we’re really trying to improve our detective bureau by putting in some best practices that’s really highlighting getting the case flow per detective low, so this cold case series is part of a bigger effort,” he said.
The first video in the series can be viewed on the agency’s Facebook page.