One Murder Costs $17.25 Million and a Lifetime of Opportunities

17.25 million dollars. According to a research study conducted by Iowa State University (2010), that is approximately how much each homicide in the US costs. The Boston Police reported 56 homicides committed in 2018. Perform a simple math calculation and that's almost 1 billion dollars ($966,000,000) drained from our local community's economy. Could you imagine living in a community suffering almost a billion dollars in losses? We're all aware of the emotional and social devastation an event such as homicide can inflict.

Intellectually it’s easy to understand that solving and attempting to prevent this type of crime costs time, energy, manpower and resources. On the surface that 17.25 million dollars price tag appears ridiculously high. But let's break that number down a bit: funeral cost, medical care, law enforcement, judicial and incarceration costs, future lost wages (for the deceased and family members), security increases, etc, etc. It's not too difficult to envision the price tag going up, up and away.

17.25 million dollars. One cannot help to wonder how any community (especially low income areas where the effects of murder can be exacerbated) could possibly overcome that sort of economic pitfall. The revenue growth for the City of Boston was 138.5 million dollars in 2018 (local receipts and property taxes make up 96% of this growth). Eight homicides wipes out those gains. The Budget for the Entire Boston Police Dept estimates for 2018 to be 386 million dollars. 23 homicides devours that figure.

Since crime is a non-market good (there's no demand for crime like say for vehicles), community racked by homicide lose valuable opportunities for investments in human capital which tends to result in those communities having lower participation in the larger economic picture. Crime does not pay is certainly true.

What does this have to do with solving cold case files? Everything. Unsolved murders means lack of security. Lack of security means lack of investment. Find any community in America where murders go unsolved at a high rate and I can almost guarantee you'll find a community with high unemployment, low property values, sub par educational institutions/opportunities, etc.

Unsolved murders creates an atmosphere where the risk of being caught appears low, trust in the abilities of Law Enforcement erodes and apathy takes hold. Often times, homicides are done in conjunction with other crimes such as drug/sex trafficking, robbery, home invasions, and other violent crimes. Would any of us live in an area where the prospect of law enforcement solving such crime is low? The answer is no.

Solving cold cases have positive psychological and social ramifications on any community. It won't stop homicide from occurring, but perhaps both the perpetrator and members of the community's belief in the possibility of someone being apprehended would be strengthened. Faith is all we have.