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Clearing gang- and drug-involved nonfatal shootings

NCJ Number
Policing: An International Journal Volume: 44 Issue: 4 Dated: August 2021 Pages: 577-590
Date Published
August 2021
14 pages

Since clearance rates for nonfatal shootings, especially cases involving gang- and drug-related violence, are disturbingly low in many U.S. cities, the current study used data from a previously completed project in Boston to explore the prospects for improving gang/drug nonfatal shooting cases by investing the same investigative effort used in similar gang/drug gun murder cases.


The analyses focused on a sample of 231 nonfatal shootings that occurred in Boston from 2010 to 2014. Logistic regressions were first used to analyze differences in the likelihood of case clearance for gang/drug nonfatal shooting cases relative to other nonfatal shooting cases. Independent samples t-tests were then used to compare the investigative characteristics of these two kinds of nonfatal shootings. Next, independent samples t-tests were used to compare the investigation of gang/drug gun assaults relative to the investigation of similar gang/drug gun homicides. Results indicate that the odds of clearing gang/drug nonfatal shootings was 77.2 percent less likely relative to the odds of clearing nonfatal shootings resulting from other circumstances. This stark difference in clearance rates was not driven by diminished investigative effort, but investigative effort does matter. Relative to gang/drug gun assaults, gang/drug gun homicides had much higher clearance rates resulting from greater investigative resources and effort that produced significantly more witnesses and evidence and generated more forensic tests and follow-up investigative actions. Gang- and drug-related violence generates a bulk of urban nonfatal shootings. Low clearance rates for nonfatal shootings undermine police efforts to hold offenders accountable, disrupt cycles of gun violence, and provide justice to victims. Police should make investments to improve investigative effort such as handling these cases with the same vigor as homicide cases. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: August 1, 2021