You are a member of the Crime Scene Response Unit (CSRU) at Metro City Police Department.



Prior to beginning work on this assignment, please review the following:

  • The article Policies and Practices in Cold Cases: An Exploratory Study 
  • The report Using DNA to Solve Cold Cases (Links to an external site.) 
  • This video Just Wrong: The Aftermath of Wrongful Convictions (Links to an external site.) 

The Crime Scene Evidence Analysis Report Final Paper will focus on  demonstrating an awareness of the scientific methodology used to solve  crimes by analyzing a virtual crime scene simulation. You will document  the appropriate procedures for protecting a crime scene; how to identify  and document evidence; evidence handling, testing, and standards for  the admissibility of evidence; scientific testing; and expert testimony  at trial. You will also describe the broad role of forensic science in  contributing toward a more just society.

Sections of your assignments from Weeks 2 through 4 will apply to  sections of the Crime Scene Evidence Analysis Report Final Paper. You  may use sections from those papers verbatim in the text of the Crime  Scene Evidence Analysis Report Final Paper if you so choose. If the  assignments are used, please ensure that all instructor  feedback/corrections have been applied.


You are a member of the Crime Scene Response Unit (CSRU) at Metro  City Police Department. The unit manager just assembled the team for a  briefing about a callout and has assigned you as lead on this scene,  making you responsible for documenting the appropriate procedures for  protecting the crime scene; how to identify and document evidence;  evidence handling, testing, and standards for the admissibility of  evidence; what scientific testing should be done at the laboratory; and  expert testimony at trial. The multimedia element shown below is the  CSRU manager’s briefing for you and your team.

Transcript for video above available here.

After watching the briefing, you will respond to the crime scene by entering the virtual crime scene simulation. Access the CRJ311 Basic Instructions  document for tips on how best to navigate through this virtual crime  scene. If you are unable to run the simulation, please contact your  instructor. You will be able to move through the crime scene, examine  items in closer detail, and determine what is evidence. You should take  notes just as you would at a physical scene, as you will need to  identify each piece of evidence and how it will be handled when you  write the Crime Scene Evidence Analysis Report Final Paper. Use relevant  examples from the virtual crime scene and a minimum of 10 scholarly  and/or credible resources, which may include resources previously used  to support your work in Weeks 2 through 4. The Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed, and Other Credible Sources (Links to an external site.) table offers additional guidance on appropriate source types.

In your Crime Scene Evidence Analysis Report Final Paper,

  • Summarize thoroughly the situation as it was known prior to arriving  at the virtual scene in your introduction. Note that your introduction  paragraph needs to end with a clear thesis statement that indicates the  purpose of your paper. For assistance on Writing a Thesis Statement (Links to an external site.), refer to the Ashford Writing Center resources.
  • Explain how the virtual crime scene will be protected. 
    • Describe how the virtual crime scene should be approached and why such steps are necessary.
    • Identify what steps are necessary to protect the virtual crime scene  from contamination or loss of evidence and why this is an important  element of crime scene management.
  • Determine evidence collection procedures appropriate to the virtual crime scene. 
    • Describe how each item of evidence will be documented.
    • Identify which collection technique should be used for each piece of evidence.
    • Differentiate among techniques and explain why different techniques are appropriate to these types of evidence.
  • Illustrate chain of custody. As part of this element 
    • Describe what chain of custody means.
    • Explain why it is important to protect the integrity of the evidence collected at the virtual crime scene.
    • Assess the potential impact on testing and admissibility if chain of custody is not clearly established.
  • Categorize evidence testing related to the virtual crime scene. As part of this element 
    • Distinguish what types of field testing should be used at the virtual crime scene.
    • Distinguish what types of laboratory testing should be used on evidence collected at the virtual crime scene.
    • Compare the possible evidentiary findings and in-court admissibility of the field and laboratory tests.
  • Analyze current standards for the admissibility of the scientific  evidence from your virtual crime scene at trial. As part of this element 
    • Explain the common standards used by the courts to evaluate the admissibility of scientific evidence.
    • Determine any possible challenges to the admissibility of the  collected evidence and what can be done proactively to ensure  admissibility.
  • Assess how following valid methodology and properly using forensic  science at trial contributes to sustaining a more just society.

The Crime Scene Evidence Analysis Report Final Paper

  • Must be at least 2,500 words in length (not including title and  references pages) and formatted according to APA style as outlined in  the Ashford Writing Center’s APA Style (Links to an external site.)
  • Must include a separate title page with the following: 
    • Title of paper
    • Student’s name
    • Course name and number
    • Instructor’s name
    • Date submitted
  • For further assistance with the formatting and the title page, refer to APA Formatting for Word 2013 (Links to an external site.).
  • Must utilize academic voice. See the Academic Voice (Links to an external site.) resource for additional guidance.
  • Must include an introduction and conclusion paragraph. Your  introduction paragraph needs to end with a clear thesis statement that  indicates the purpose of your paper. 
    • For assistance on writing Introductions & Conclusions (Links to an external site.) as well as Writing a Thesis Statement (Links to an external site.), refer to the Ashford Writing Center resources.
  • Must use at least 10 scholarly, peer-reviewed, or professionally  credible sources in addition to the course text. These may include the  resources that supported your work in Weeks 2 through 4. 
    • The Scholarly, Peer-Reviewed, and Other Credible Sources (Links to an external site.)  table offers additional guidance on appropriate source types. If you  have questions about whether a specific source is appropriate for this  assignment, please contact your instructor. Your instructor has the  final say about the appropriateness of a specific source for a  particular assignment.
    • To assist you in completing the research required for this assignment, view this Ashford University Library Quick ‘n’ Dirty (Links to an external site.) tutorial, which introduces the Ashford University Library and the research process, and provides some library search tips.
  • Must document any information used from sources in APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center’s Citing Within Your Paper (Links to an external site.)
  • Must include a separate references page that is formatted according  to APA style as outlined in the Ashford Writing Center. See the Formatting Your References List (Links to an external site.) resource in the Ashford Writing Center for specifications.

Policies and practices in cold cases: an exploratory study Robert C. Davis Police Executive Research Forum, Police Foundation, Washington, District of Columbia, USA Carl Jensen Center for Intelligence and Security Studies, University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, USA, and Lorrianne Kuykendall and Kristin Gallagher Forensic Psychology Department, Marymount University, Arlington, Virginia, USA Abstract Purpose–As a result of advances in DNA and other forensic technologies, police agencies are showing increased interest in cold-case investigations, with larger departments dedicating staff to conducting these investigations or forming cold-case squads. The purpose of this paper is to provide information on how police agencies organize and conduct cold-case investigations.

Design/methodology/approach–To assess the current practices used in cold-case investigations, an exploratory survey was sent to a stratified random sample of police agencies across the US survey findings are based on 1,051 returns.

Findings–Results include the following. Most agencies dolittle cold-case work, with only 20 percent having a protocol for initiating cold-case investigations, 10 percent having dedicated cold-case investigators, and 7 percent having a formal cold-case unit. Cold-case funding is tenuous: 20 percent of cold-case work is funded through line items in thebudget, with most funded by grants or supplemental funds. Success rates for cold-case investigations are low: about one in five cases are cleared. Agency factors associated with higher clearance rates included level of funding and access to investigative databases.

Practical implications–As new forensic tools are developed, cold-case investigations will become an increasingly prominent activity of criminal investigation units. The survey reported on in this paper gives the first glimpse of how agencies are handling these cases.

Originality/value–To the knowledge, there are no other empirical studies on how agencies structure and conduct cold-case investigations.

KeywordsHomicide, Investigation, Police administration, Cold case Paper typeResearch paper Introduction Technological advancements have transformed the way crimes are solved. Modern investigators have tools at their discretion that their predecessors could not even have imagined. Yet, while investigative tools have grown exponentially, clearance rates have declined largely due to changes in the characteristics of homicides. Cold-case investigations are a natural response by law enforcement agencies to go after unsolved cases with the new arsenal of tools available. Spurred on by the availability of federal funding and depictions in the popular media, more and more agencies have been drawn to create cold-case units. The exploratory survey described in this paper was intended to provide insight into current law enforcement cold-case policies and practices and to create a foundation for further cold-case research. Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management Vol. 38 No. 4, 2015 pp. 610-630 © Emerald Group Publishing Limited 1363-951X DOI 10.1108/PIJPSM-10-2014-0107 Received 3 October 2014 Revised 3 April 2015 6 May 2015 Accepted 6 May 2015 The current issue and full text archive of this journal is available on Emerald Insight at: This work was funded by grant no. 2007-DD-BX-0014 from the National Institute of Justice. 610 PIJPSM 38,4 Background The high rate of homicide clearance during the 1950s and 1960s dropped dramatically into the 1990s and from there has remained relatively constant. Several studies found clearance rates as high as 91 percent in 1965 compared to only 62 percent today (Reynolds, 1995; Uniform Crime Report, 2012). Cardarelli and Cavanaugh (1992) noted that from 1971 to 1990 there was a 33 percent increase in the number of murders and non-negligent manslaughter reported to the police, but a 174 percent increase in uncleared murders. As discussed below, the decline in clearance rates has been attributed to several factors including the nature of crimes and unwillingness of witnesses to come forward and aid investigations by identifying potential suspects.

A number of studies have noted that more homicides today are committed using firearms, and gun crimes typically leave little physical evidence implicating the perpetrator (McDowall, 1991; Ousey and Lee, 2010). On the other hand, homicides that involve a struggle or other close contact between perpetrator and victim are more likely to leave DNA or other physical evidence that makes the case easier to solve (Litwin, 2004; Addington, 2006; Regoecziet al., 2008).

Cardarelli and Cavanaugh (1992) proposed a change in the nature of victim-offender relationships homicide as one of the reasons influencing the reduction in clearance rates. Fewer homicides today are committed by domestic partners and more by strangers, more often leaving police without a clear suspect in the crime. This increase in stranger-on-stranger homicides is especially acute in urban areas where people are less likely to know their neighbors or recognize individuals who live in the area (Gilbert, 1983; Richardson and Kosa, 2001). Ousey and Lee (2010) also found there has been a decrease in homicides resulting fromarguments, again resulting in fewer investigations with an obvious motive.

It has been argued that a lack of trust and fear of retaliation, especially in poor, high crime neighborhoods, are major factors in the decline of clearance rates (Riedel and Jarvis, 1999; Borg and Parker, 2001). The motto“stop snitching”has been publicized in rap music and in the“gangsta culture,”leading to a culture of silence akin to witness intimidation (Kahn, 2007). To be widely regarded as a“snitch”may lead to loss of reputation, lack of criminal opportunities, and violent retaliation (Rosenfeldet al., 2003).

Without eyewitness testimony or members of the community providing information that may provide a motive, police may have little information to go on when investigating homicides. Moreover, members of the growing immigrant population may also be afraid to step forward and assist the police due to fear of being deported (Correia, 2010). In contrast, several recent studies have found that detectives in small, close knit communities have more success in obtaining information to aid homicide investigations (Weisheit and Wells, 2005; Paréet al., 2007).

Declining clearance rates led researchers to look at how the actions taken by the police were related to the likelihood of solving crimes. A seminal study conducted by the RAND Corporation in the 1970s produced a very pessimistic view of the effectiveness of investigations. It found that 80 percent of crimes were solved at the crime scene by actions of the responding officers or by information about the identity of the perpetrator supplied by the victim or witness (Greenwoodet al., 1977; Chaikenet al., 1976). Only 3 percent of index crimes were solved by true investigative efforts on the part of detectives (Greenwoodet al., 1977; Greenwood and Petersilia, 1975). Similar findings were echoed a few years later in a study of burglary investigations by Eck (1979).

Subsequent research found more reason for optimism concerning the efficacy of investigations. Some research has shown that agencies with certain attributes and 611 Policies and practices in cold cases policies tend to have higher clearance rates. Cordner (1989) determined that clearance rates decrease as agency size increases. Elliott (1978) found that agencies that held investigators strictly accountable for individual cases had higher clearance rates than those agencies that utilized traditional approaches. Some studies have found a correlation between case clearance and detective experience and expenditures (Borg and Parker, 2001; National Institute of Justice, 1997), but this finding is not consistently supported in all studies (see e.g. Puckett and Lundman, 2003; Greenwood and Petersilia, 1975). After an extensive literature review, Rinehart (1994) concluded there are few organizational variables that have a substantial and consistent effect on clearance rates; rather, characteristics of the community and the state of police-community relations have the greatest effect.

Other research has focussed on how the actions of investigators and responding patrol officers affect the likelihood of clearance. For example, Wellfordet al.(1999) reported that case clearance is more likely when respondingofficers follow certain procedures, such as contacting the medical examiner’sofficeandcrimelabs,whentheyareableto immediately secure the crime scene and canvass for witnesses, and when the detectives arrive within 30 minutes of crime-scene discovery. Other studies have found that successful outcomes are also more likely when multiple detectives are assigned to a case; when computer database checks are run on all evidence and individuals involved; and when thorough interviews are conducted with witnesses, victims’families, and neighbors (Riedel and Rinehart, 1996; Schroder and White, 2009; Baskin and Sommers, 2010).

Evolution of cold-case units, DNA testing, and other databases By the late 1980s, high crime rates combined with low clearance rates made the sheer volume of unsolved cases overwhelming for many agencies. One response to the declining clearance rates and large homicide backlogs was an increase in resources invested in solving cold cases. There is no universally accepted metric for when a case becomes“cold.”Many jurisdictions arbitrarily use the passage of a year as a boundary, but some research suggests that there is a sharp decline in the ability to clear a case after 72 hours has passed (Regoecziet al., 2008). Jurisdictions also differ on when and how cases are considered“cleared.”A common definition is that a case is cleared when one of the following occurs; an arrest is made, the suspect commits suicide at the time of the homicide, or the homicide is ruled in self-defense (Wellfordet al., 1999).

Cold-case investigations have been facilitated by technological advances. The introduction of DNA testing in the 1980s brought about a major revolution in criminal investigations. Historically, matching an individual to a crime required eyewitness identification or the matching of specific body characteristics, such as fingerprints or dental records. The introduction of DNA evidence has allowed offenders to be identified by analyzing unique nucleic information found in any part of the human body (Gans and Urbas, 2002). Its early use was either to exonerate or to strengthen the case against an individual who had already been identified as a suspect in a crime (Goldinget al., 2000). However, crime experts quickly realized that DNA could be used to identify suspects in cases in which no suspect had been identified through other investigative means (FBI, n.d.a, website). The DNA Identification Act of 1994 authorized the FBI to form the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) that allowed sharing of DNA indices across states.

Recognizing the potential in the growing CODIS database, the federal government has lent financial support to the use of DNA to solve cases, new and old. In 2006, the National Institute for Justice (NIJ) provided over $107 million in funding for DNA 612 PIJPSM 38,4 research under the DNA initiative, a five-year plan to support and promote the use of forensic DNA in solving crimes. NIJ has also granted federal funding to support cold-case units that utilize DNA analysis; between the years 2004 and 2011, over $66 million were provided to 37 states.

Other technological advances have also helped investigators solve crimes.

Databases such as Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS) and the National Integrated Ballistic Information Network (NIBIN) made it possible to link forensic evidence to individuals and other crime scenes. State and local jurisdictions are able to maintain their own AFIS systems, in addition to the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS) that was introduced by the FBI in 1999.

The FBI plans to replace IAFIS with the Next Generation Identification System, which would also incorporate palm prints, iris, and facial identification (FBI, n.d.b). NIBIN, which was created by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in the 1990s, allows policing agencies to match digital markings from spent ammunition in their crime scenes to other crimes scenes from the database, or to individual firearms. As of September, 2013, the program had produced more than 50,000 hits (Kinget al., 2013)[1].

Rationale for the present study. Despite the growing number of cold-case investigations and the expenditure of significant resources to fund them, we know virtually nothing about the return on this investment. Does it make sense for law enforcement agencies to devote significant resources to solving cold cases, or are those resources better deployed in solving recent cases? How do agencies organize and support cold-case work? The survey reported on in this paper was designed to help begin answering these questions by developing information about how cold-case work is organized and funded, and what policies govern cold-case work.

Method To assess the current practices used in cold-case investigations, we developed an exploratory survey for law enforcement agencies. The survey was developed with the assistance of an expert scientific review panel that included several cold-case investigators. The 27-question survey focussed on general agency policies regarding cold-case investigations, funding for cold-case investigations, use of DNA testing, and factors promoting cold-case solvability. Most of the survey items consisted of closed ended questions in which respondents chose from a list of pre-selected answers. A copy of the survey is included in the Appendix.

In creating the sampling frame, the University of Baltimore’s Schaefer Center for Public Policy utilized a Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) database of chiefs of police and sheriffs. This original database was comprised of 15,884 chiefs of police from all police departments in the USA, including native American tribal police departments.

The Center then drew a stratified sample of 5,000 agencies from the original database.

The resulting sample of 5,000 included 44 Native American tribal police departments and 997 other departments with more than 100 full-time sworn officers. The balance of the sample (3,959) was comprised of police departments in the following size categories:

1,886 from departments with zero to 25 full-time sworn officers; 1,000 from departments with 26 to 50 full-time sworn officers; 707 from departments with 51 to 75 full-time sworn officers; and 366 from departments with 76 to 99 full-time sworn officers.

On November 17, 2008, the chiefs of police in the sample were sent a letter explaining the purpose of the survey and inviting them to participate. Potential 613 Policies and practices in cold cases respondents were directed to the web-based survey instrument through a provided web address (uniform resource locator, or URL). Three separate mailings were made. The first mailing went to all 5,000 respondents. Two weeks later, letters were mailed to the 4,919 respondents who had not yet completed the survey. Two weeks after the second letter was sent, a third and final letter was mailed to the 4,570 respondents who had not yet completed the survey. The survey was taken down from the web in February 2009.

Of the 5,000 surveys mailed out, 1,051 were completed–for a response rate of about 20 percent. We broke down responses according to type of agency, size of agency, and region of the USA (see Figure 1). Response rates varied little by agency type. In total, 19 percent of police agencies returned surveys, a percentage that is virtually identical to the other types of agencies that returned surveys: 18 percent of sheriff offices, 20 percent of state police agencies, and 14 percent of tribal police agencies.

We also did not find any substantial differences according to region of the country.

We received returns from 17 percent of respondents in the northeast, 25 percent of agencies in the southeast, 21 percent of agencies in the north central region, 16 percent of agencies in the south central region, and 21 percent of agencies in the northwest.

Only the southwestern states, which returned 32 percent of surveys mailed out, had a response rate that stood out from the others.

We did note that there was a strong correlation between agency size and response rate. Surveys were returned by 33 percent of agencies with 100 or more sworn officers, by 26 percent of agencies with 76-99 sworn officers, by 27 percent of agencies with 51-75 sworn officers, and by 20 percent of agencies with 26-50 sworn officers, but only by 12 percent of agencies with 25 or fewer sworn officers. We surmise that the low response rate among smaller agencies was because they did not have formal procedures for conducting cold-case operations, and therefore did not feel the survey applied to them. In retrospect, a better strategy would have likely been to begin the survey with an“opt-out” screening question that, if answered negatively, would require no further responses.

The overall low response rate is likely to affect survey estimates of cold-case practices (e.g. the proportion of agencies that have a dedicated cold-case unit). For this reason, the estimates of the proportion of agencies having dedicated cold-case Policing AgenciesSheriff OfficeState Police Tribal PoliceNortheast Southeast Southcentral 100 76-9951- 75 26-50 25 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 Percentage Type Agency Size SouthwesternRegion Figure 1.

Response rate×agency characteristics 614 PIJPSM 38,4 investigators, dedicated cold-case units, or defined cold-case protocols are best thought of as upper limits on the proportions of these characteristics in the law enforcement population. It is less likely that the response rate affects survey results concerning the cold-case investigation process (e.g. definitions of cold cases, types of cases worked, criteria for selecting which cold cases to investigate).

Results Cold-case practices The first section of the survey sought to determine how agencies define“cold-case”and how they select and prioritize cases to be worked as cold-case investigations.

When asked what process is used to formally close (or relegate to inactive status) investigations that have been actively investigated but remain unsolved, a plurality of the responding agencies (41 percent) stated that the investigative supervisor made the decision (see Figure 2). In total, 18 percent stated the case investigator made the decision, and only 3 percent of the agencies used a committee of investigators to close cases. The remaining 36 percent of responding agencies did not close cases; rather, investigations remained open without active pursuit.

In total, 70 percent of responding agencies formally re-open and investigate cold-cases. However, of those, only 23 percent have a formal protocol used when determining which cases to work.

Respondents were then asked to rate a series of factors in terms of their effect on the decision to open a cold-case investigation. Figure 3 indicates the most common reasons for re-opening cases have to do with physical evidence; new witnesses coming forward and the availability of new DNA technology to retest old physical evidence (mentioned by 90 percent of respondents). Availability of new material for DNA testing and the availability of other physical evidence were both mentioned by 86 percent of responding agencies to be contributing factors. The least mentioned factors were that a prior conviction had been overturned (mentioned by 22 percent) and recovered memory or new information from a previously known witness was produced (mentioned by 36 percent). Supervisor 41% Investigator 18 % Committee 3%Stay 36 %Other 2% Figure 2.

How cases are closed 615 Policies and practices in cold cases Administration of cold-case investigations The next section of the survey focussed on administrative issues of cold-case investigations and units. The survey inquired as to how cold-case investigations are structured in each agency. Just 7 percent of the responding agencies had a dedicated cold-case unit. The existence of a dedicated unit was found almost exclusively among agencies with 100 or more sworn officers (as shown in Figure 4). Still, even among the larger agencies, only 18 percent reported having a dedicated cold-case unit.

Among agencies that formally reactivated cold cases, 15 percent indicated these investigations are handled by one or more dedicated cold-case investigators.

In total, 30 percent assigned cold cases to the original investigator, while 44 percent assigned cold cases as part of detectives’regular workload, (11 percent of agencies fell into an“other”category).

The next question requested that agencies estimate the numbers of full-time equivalents (FTE) that are assigned to work on cold cases, regardless of whether the agency has a specialized cold-case unit. A majority of agencies (54 percent) had two or fewer sworn FTEs assigned to cold-case work, but one in ten had ten or more officers assigned. In total, 19 percent also had at least one civilian FTE working on cold cases.

A majority of agencies (58 percent) fund their cold-case investigations with grants or supplemental funding. The median estimate of allocation of funds reported in the survey was $35,000. One in five of the responding agencies include cold-case investigations as a line item in their budget[2]. 0.18 0.04 0.02 0.01 0 0.05 0.1 0.15 0.2 100+ 76-99 51-750-50 Number of sworn officers Proportion with cold case units Figure 4.

Formal cold-case units by agency size 90 90 86 86 80 71 55 49 49 36 22 New witnesses New DNA methodsNew DNA materialOther forensics New forensic methods Systematic re-examinationWitnesses change storyMisplaced evidenceElapsed time Recovered memory Prior conviction overturned Percentage Figure 3.

Factors governing re-opening of cases 616 PIJPSM 38,4 Types of cases worked and success rate As shown in Table I, homicides are the most common crime investigated by cold-case investigators (68 percent). The next most-commonly investigated cold cases were missing persons, with 35 percent of agencies investigating at least one missing-person case. Surprisingly, burglaries were the third most common type of cold-case investigation, followed by sex offenses (29 percent) and robberies (23 percent). The least commonly investigated cold-case crimes were embezzlement (16 percent), arson (15 percent), and kidnapping (8 percent). We attempted to determine whether the range of cases worked by agencies was related to the degree that cold-case investigations were institutionalized, namely, whether agencies had dedicated cold-case units or investigators and whether cold-case funding was a line item in agency budgets. We did not find a relationship between type of funding and range of case worked, but did find that agencies that had dedicated cold-case investigators worked on a significantly greater range of types of cases than other agencies[3].

Agencies varied widely in the proportion of cold cases with a known perpetrator that resulted in arrest. In total, 28 percent of respondents did not know what their cold-case arrest rate was. Of those agencies reporting a proportion, nearly two in three agencies (62 percent) reported arrests in 10 percent or less of cold-cases investigated. Within this group, 36 percent reported making no cold-case arrests.

These obviously tended to be agencies that conducted few cold-case investigations.

At the other end of the spectrum, 14 percent of agencies reported arrests in better than three-quarters of the cold cases in which a perpetrator hadbeen identified.

Based on statistics provided by respondents, slightly more than one in five sex offenses, burglaries, homicides, and robberies were cleared. The lowest clearance rates were reported for embezzlement, arson, and kidnapping, each under 10 percent.

Surprisingly, success in clearing cold cases was not related to either stability of cold-case funding or having a dedicated unit or investigators.

Institutional support Some agencies lent various forms of institutional support to facilitate successful investigations (see Figure 5). The most common type of institutional support was overtime pay with supervisory permission, noted by 37 percent of respondents. Other forms of common institutional support were funds to travel outside the jurisdiction to pursue leads (noted by 32 percent of respondents) and being able to take home a car (noted by 24 percent of respondents). Only a handful of agencies reported that cold-case investigators were able to work overtime hours without authorization or that investigators received incentives for their work. % of agencies that worked at least one case in past year Homicides 68 Missing persons 35 Burglaries 29 Sex offenses 29 Robberies 23 Embezzlement 16 Arson 15 Kidnapping 8 Table I.

Types of cold cases worked in past year and clearance rates 617 Policies and practices in cold cases Respondents were asked about strategies their agencies used to promote cold-case investigations (as shown in Figure 6). The most frequent strategy used was assigning senior investigators to cold cases (mentioned by 45 percent of respondents). The use of information sharing systems, such as Regional Information Sharing Systems and Law Enforcement Online, was mentioned by 30 percent of respondents. Less frequently used strategies (mentioned by less than one in five responding agencies) included coordination with state law enforcement agencies, assigning teams of investigators maintaining a cold-case database, offering elective specialized cold-case training, maintaining a formal liaison with the media, coordinating with federal agencies, and requiring specialized training in cold cases.

Use of DNA evidence Only 13 percent of responding agencies reported having specific polices on the types of cases and circumstances under which DNA samples are submitted for laboratory Authorized over time 37 % Travel to pursue leads 32 % Ta k e home cars 24 % Unauthorized overtime 5%Incentives 2% Figure 5.

Types of institutional support for cold-case investigators 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 Assign experienced investigators Access to investigative databasesCoordination with state agenciesAssign teams of investigatorsMaintain cold case databaseOptional cold case trainingFormal media liaison Coordination with federal agenciesRequired training in cold cases Percentage Figure 6.

Strategies to promote cold-case investigations 618 PIJPSM 38,4 testing. Agencies were asked how many DNA samples were submitted for testing in the past year, and whether the results were matched to a known suspect. Almost half of the responding agencies did not answer these questions. In total, 38 percent of those that did respond stated their agency did not submit any DNA samples in the past year, and 48 percent reported submitting ten samples or less for testing; the average number of cases submitted was four. DNA samples were far more likely to be submitted for testing in agencies that had cold-case units or staff dedicated to cold-case investigations: 84 percent of such agencies had submitted DNA samples for testing during the past year compared to 55 percent of agencies that reported having a cold-case process, but no staff dedicated to cold-case investigations. This suggests that agencies that make a serious commitment to investigating cold cases are also willing to allocate funds for laboratory testing of DNA evidence.

Respondents estimated that 10 percent of the samples resulted in a suspect match, and 5 percent of the DNA samples were linked to other crime scenes. These numbers are likely to increase as the size of the CODIS database becomes larger.

Conclusion The purpose of this study was to provide a preliminary overview of cold-case investigative units and strategies nationwide. While the survey was considered exploratory, and the response rate was less than optimal, we still take away from the survey several key findings that can help inform and improve these investigations.

One of the major findings was that cold-case investigations are mostly opportunistic. Agencies do not appear to be influenced by the pressure of the media or victims’families when it comes to deciding whether to re-open a case, nor do most agencies re-examine unsolved cases as a matter of routine. Instead, often, cases are actively investigated only when new evidence emerges (whether physical or witness statements) or when new DNA testing methods are used to retest old evidence. Agencies could benefit from the practice of regular reviews of unsolved cases looking for those in which leads were not pursued or forensic evidence not thoroughly exploited.

We also found that cold-case work is usually loosely structured. It is rare to have dedicated investigators and rarer still to have dedicated cold-case units. In our observations, cold-case work is something that investigators do as time permits on their active caseload. Funding is not stable, and typically is not included as a line item in agency budgets. This suggests that federal funding of cold-case DNA work remains essential if cold-case investigations are to be supported and expanded.

A third key finding is that the rate of success in cold-case investigations is low, around one in five or less, depending on type of case. A one in five success rate may not seem low for cases that have were not solved initially. But, as stated above, many, or perhaps most, cold-case investigations are begun only after new leads come in or new evidence is uncovered. Since the survey responses were based on estimates, so we have no way of knowing how accurate those estimates were. Yet, they do raise questions about the efficiency of cold-case work.

The fact that statistics provided on the survey were often estimates makes it hard to rely strongly on the study’s findings, especially when it comes to clearance rates. Our experience on site in several major city agencies with dedicated cold-case investigators (see Daviset al., 2014) indicated that the disorganized state of record keeping that Greenwoodet al. noted for investigations in 1977 is still true today, at least for cold cases. A first step to better cold-case practices is to encourage agencies to develop 619 Policies and practices in cold cases cold-case management systems that track the number of cases worked, the number solved, and the amount of investigative time and resources that are consumed. These systems would facilitate closer oversight of investigators and generate data to better determine the probability of solving cases based on characteristics (eg. age of case, mode of homicide, availability of witnesses, etc.) as well as allowing an examination of which activities of investigators are most likely to produce a clearance.

After reviewing these results, we suggest two topics that should be researched to better understand the potential for cold-case investigations:

Conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis of investigator time spent on cold cases vs new cases Because of the paucity of data on cold-case investigations, we know little about the return on investment of investigative resources put into cold cases relative to active cases. For a police agency with a fixed investigation budget, the question of what proportion of resources should be diverted to cold cases is a practical decision with important consequences. Collecting information in multiple selected agencies would help inform those decisions.

Collecting the right information, it would be possible to develop cost-effectiveness models that relate the average amount of time spent on active and cold-case investigations to clearances and arrests. The models would specify the expected number of clearances and arrests per hour of effort expended on active case and cold-case investigations.

Assess the conviction rate for cold cases, and determine whether involvement of prosecutors in investigations leads to a higher rate of convictions In a sample of agencies that conduct a large number of cold-case investigations, one could determine the conviction rate for successful cold-case investigations (i.e. those investigations that resulted in a clearance), the proportion of cleared cases that are filed, and the proportion of the filings result in convictions. It would also be useful to collect reasons prosecutors gave for not filing cases and reasons for dismissal stated in prosecutor files for those cases that were filed but later dismissed. Interviews with detectives and prosecutors would provide further insight into the most-common reasons that some cleared cold cases do not result in convictions.

Comparison of filing and conviction rates across sites could help to determine whether sites where police cold-case investigators consult with prosecutors throughout the investigative process have a higher rate of filings and convictions than other jurisdictions.

The survey that we conducted represents a small first step in understanding the nature and scope of cold-case work as well as ways to prioritize cases and optimize the use of investigators’time. Future research will help to systematize this increasingly popular area of investigations that has so captured the public’s imagination.

Notes 1. A hit is a linkage of two different cases or crime-scene investigations.

2. The remaining responses were“other.”Most of these indicated that there was no special funding available for cold-case work.

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Rinehart, T.A. (1944),“An analysis of Police Clearances in Chicago: 1981-1991”, unpublished thesis, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL. 622 PIJPSM 38,4 Appendix. Cold-case survey 623 Policies and practices in cold cases 624 PIJPSM 38,4 625 Policies and practices in cold cases 626 PIJPSM 38,4 627 Policies and practices in cold cases 628 PIJPSM 38,4 629 Policies and practices in cold cases About the authors Robert C. Davis has directed more than 35 projects on victimization, domestic violence, policing, crime prevention, immigration, courts, prosecution, and parole reentry for federal and state governments, and private foundations. Davis has led projects with some of the nation’s leading law enforcement agencies. While at the Vera Institute, he led a project for the New York Police Department that surveyed more than 5,000 citizens each month in order to develop measures of citizen satisfaction with police interactions that could be used to hold precinct commanders accountable for service to the public. He worked with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police to evaluate the city’s response to a federal consent decree resulting from a Justice Department pattern and practice suit. He worked with the Seattle Police Department to assess whether police were providing service without respect to race or ethnicity. He worked with the Dallas Police Department to conceive and implement a $10 million leadership training and research institute that partners the DPD with two local universities. Prior to coming to the Police Foundation, he spent six years at the RAND Corporation where his work included a project to develop and test a standardized set of policing performance indicators and a project to identify factors that enhance the solvability of cold-case homicides. He is the author of two books on crime prevention, editor of six books on crime prevention and victimization, and author of more than 100 journal articles and book chapters. Robert C. Davis is the corresponding author and can be contacted at: Dr Carl Jensen earned his PhD in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of Maryland. After a 22 year career as a Special Agent in the FBI, he joined the RAND Corporation as a Senior Behavioral Scientist in 2007. Dr Jensen currently serves as the Director of the Center for Intelligence and Security Studies and Associate Professor of Criminal Justice at the University of Mississippi. His research interests include testing methods for effective and efficient police investigations, measuring the effectiveness of intelligence led policing strategies in real world settings, and integrating behavioral science techniques into policing.

Lorrianne Kuykendall is currently in the Forensic Psychology Master’s Program at Marymount University with the expected graduated date of May 2015. She is an Intern with Police Executive Research Forum. Lorrianne Works at Hopewell House a Semi-Independent residential rehab facility as Behavioral Health Coach. Lorrianne’s research interests include violent offending, gender disparities in offending and correctional police reform.

Kristin Gallagher earned her Master’s Degree in Forensic Psychology from the Marymount University in 2012. She is currently a Federal Police Sergeant with the Supreme Court of the US Police Department in Washington, DC. Kristin’s research interests include women in law enforcement, police psychology, and risk/threat management.

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