State crime statistics that show the Santa Ana Police Department has the worst murder solution rate of California's 10 largest cities are "misleading," a department spokesman said Tuesday.
Lt. Robert Chavez, the spokesman, said that illegal aliens were involved in more than half of the city's homicides in 1982-86 and that suspects with outstanding arrest warrants in 19 of the department's unsolved murder cases during that period fled to Mexico.
'Crime Itself Solved'
If the state bureau of criminal statistics counted those cases as cleared, then the city's murder solution rate would be closer to 76%, far better than the state's figure of 57% over the same five-year period, he said.
"The (state) numbers are kind of misleading," Chavez said. "Our investigation section has solved the crime itself, but it is beyond their means to apprehend the suspect. They are not running around."
Charlotte Rhea, a research analyst with the state bureau of criminal statistics, said the state would not consider a homicide cleared if the suspect escaped to another country unless he could be immediately found and arrested.
But, she said, Santa Ana follows the same crime reporting standards as all other law enforcement agencies in California and the United States, those set out in the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting Handbook.
Chavez produced homicide statistics from the Santa Ana Police Department Tuesday that differed slightly from the state figures, a discrepancy he could not explain.
In a check of the original monthly reports filed with the state by Santa Ana police in 1986, including amended figures sent in afterward, state analyst Rhea found 19 of 31 recorded homicides in that city had been cleared. According to Chavez, 22 of 34 homicides that year were cleared.
State figures show that Santa Ana reported 86 of 150 recorded homicides cleared in 1982-86, for a solution rate of 57%. Chavez said his department's figures show 160 homicides with 94 arrests, nine other clearances and the 19 outstanding arrest warrants for suspects believed to be in Mexico, for a department-modified solution rate of 76%.