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BALTIMORE (AP) — The criterion cited to close a growing number of Baltimore homicide cases “by exception” is the suspect’s death.

The Baltimore Sun obtained data under Maryland’s Public Information Act showing the number of exceptional closures increased in each of the last four years, from 11 in 2014 to 34 in 2017. That practice has helped police improve their homicide clearance rate.

Homicide unit commander Maj. Chris Jones says detectives run potential exceptional closures by the Baltimore State’s Attorney’s office.

He says the increase in the number of dead suspects is commensurate with the growing homicide tally. After 342 people were killed in Baltimore last year, police spokesman T.J. Smith said “today’s victim is yesterday’s suspect, and today’s suspect can be tomorrow’s victim.”

Smith says it’s not policy to notify the families of suspects accused posthumously.

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Information from: The Baltimore Sun, http://www.baltimoresun.com