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Volume II: Research Analysis of the Phoenix Homicide Clearance Project

NCJ Number
Tom McEwen, Ph.D.
Date Published
July 2009
91 pages
This second of three volumes on the management and processing of homicide cases in Phoenix, AZ, and Maricopa County presents the results of the analysis of several aspects of homicides in Phoenix, AZ, between July 1, 2003, and June 30, 2005.
This analysis is linked to Volume I of the three-volume series. Volume I present the process and impact evaluations of the Phoenix Homicide Clearance Project, which consisted of transferring four crime-scene specialists from the crime lab to the department's homicide unit for the purpose of collecting evidence at homicide scenes. Volume II includes homicide cases that occurred during the training period for the four crime scene specialists assigned to the homicide unit of the Phoenix Police Department (PPD). A chapter analyzes the PPD's open and closed homicide cases initiated during the 2-year study period. This chapter analyzes factors that affected case clearance. This is followed by a chapter that compares the current study and two previous studies on homicides in various cities and States. The next chapter addresses types of clearances, based on a qualitative review of the PPD's closed homicide cases. A chapter then describes the types of evidence collected at homicide scenes. The final chapter summarizes the analysis performed by the PPD's crime lab on forensic evidence collected at the scenes. It includes examples of successful case outcomes related to lab analysis. The chapter concludes that the majority of crime lab analysis is after arrest as the case is built against an arrested suspect. Forensic analysis in Phoenix rarely was the basis for identifying a suspect who had not already been identified through efforts by investigators. This finding suggests that more forensic analysis by crime lab personnel will result in more clearances; homicide investigators should make greater use of fingerprint and DNA analysis. 18 exhibits and 5 references