Memphis police reflect on crime solving ability

With the soaring Memphis murder rate, detectives must outwit the criminals they hunt to solve the crime.

So far, Memphis investigators have already solved about 80% of this year's 61 homicides.

The Memphis Homicide Bureau gave Action News 5 an inside look at the brains behind their success in decoding these mysteries.

"We found that the system we use here works so we do the same thing over and over again," explained Lieutenant Toney Armstrong.

Armstrong closely tracks homicides on a board in the bureau posting each detective's success rate and comparing solve rates by years and months.

"At the end of every year we look and see where we are versus the national average: the cases that we solve, and the cases that we did not solve," said Armstrong.

The most recent national homicide solve rate was 62.6% in 2004. That same year Memphis had an 86% solve rate. Armstrong says evidence, witnesses and other units, like Blue Crush, help out.

"If there are witnesses that we need to find and we can't, they actually get out and go and find them for us. That frees up our investigators to do other things, to work on other cases," he said.

In May 2005 Memphis had 41 murders. There's an almost 50 percent increase this year. Armstrong says that the higher volume can pose a challenge to their 48 hour goal.

"We do everything we can to develop or arrest a person responsible for that homicide within the first 48 hours. We use all the resources available to us to do that," Armstrong said.

Every year, their goal is set at 100 percent.