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Promoting Effective Homicide Investigations

NCJ Number
James M. Cronin; Gerard R. Murphy; Lisa L. Spahr; Jessica I. Toliver; Richard E. Weger
Date Published
August 2007
188 pages
This book aims to improve homicide investigations by examining current agency investigative practices and relatively new investigative procedures that may produce more effective investigations.
Several themes are presented, based on recommendations from a conference on "Promoting Effective Homicide Investigations" (May 25-26, 2006). First, there is no perfect formula for preventing and/or solving homicides; however, a number of initiatives and promising practices have helped agencies to improve their homicide investigations. Second, despite the differences among law enforcement agencies, many face the same problems when dealing with an increasing crime rate and a reduction in clearance rates. Technological developments, behavioral science research, closer scrutiny of law enforcement practices by outside parties, staffing shortages, insufficient forensic analysis resources, and a lack of universal performance indicators are some of the issues that confront law enforcement administrators and investigators. This book focuses on the policy options, scientific protocols, and legal safeguards that confront law enforcement executives in their management of homicide investigations. It includes lessons learned and challenges faced, as well as success stories from agencies with experience in implementing various policies for homicide investigations. The authors advise that law enforcement agencies should evaluate their needs, resources, and capabilities in all areas in order to determine which approaches to homicide investigations are most beneficial to them. In addition to a discussion of issues derived from the conferences, the issues discussed are based on data collected during site visits to selected departments and interviews with law enforcement professionals and other knowledgeable parties throughout 2006. Examples of policies for homicide units, cold case squads, and other materials are included in appendixes.