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How Police Policies and Practices Impact Successful Crime Investigation: Factors That Enable Police Departments to "Clear" Crimes

NCJ Number
Justice System Journal Dated: 2020
Date Published

A nationwide survey of U.S. law enforcement agencies was conducted by Horvath et al. (2001) with an aim of describing comprehensive information about police practices and policies regarding the criminal investigation process.


Using the survey results, this study explores whether and how police organizations vary in their ability to clear crimes by examining organizational policies and practices that can predict cleared crimes against persons and property. The study’s results reveal, contrary to the conclusions of the RAND Corporation’s landmark 1977 report on police criminal investigations, that certain organizational characteristics of “crime control” efforts, including the police department’s perceived importance of clearance rates, cold case units, detachment from the public, case screening methods, Automated Fingerprint Identification System ownership, the use of “team policing”, and members of task forces were effective, but that those with a more “due process” orientation such as education requirements for investigators and their supervisors, prosecutor consultation, and problems with prosecutors’ advice tended to inhibit the clearing of cases. Implications for the effectiveness of police organizational policies related to the criminal investigation process are discussed. (publisher abstract  modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2020