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Police Investigations of Gun Offenses: Understanding and Enhancing Performance

Award Information

Award #
Funding Category
Competitive Discretionary
Congressional District
Funding First Awarded
Total funding (to date)

Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2020, $619,648)

The purpose of the project is to conduct research to illuminate the forms of investigative activities and evidence that contribute to investigative and prosecutorial outcomes, including an experimental evaluation of a systematic effort to better exploit video and audio technology for investigative and prosecutorial purposes among cases involving firearms. The goals are to deepen the current understanding of whether and how specific forms of investigative activities contribute to (or detract from) case clearances and prosecutions. Researchers will also conduct a randomized controlled trial to test the efficacy of systematically supplementing the efforts of sworn criminal investigators with those of crime analysts in tapping specific available investigative resources.
Partnering with the Syracuse (NY) Police Department, the research team will code data on gun offenses, investigations thereof, and their outcomes and will randomize the application of an intervention consisting of supplemental investigative activities performed by crime analysts: reviews of public and private surveillance video, reviews of social media, and reviews of jail calls. Across the 2.5-year intervention period, data will be collected on approximately 600 gun-related cases, half of which will be subject to the intervention. Gun offenses will include: nondomestic firearm assaults, including nonfatal shootings, shots-fired incidents (without injuries), and other assaults with a firearm; and firearm robberies. Effects will be estimated of the intervention on case clearance and on prosecutorial outcomes. The research team will also describe the frequency with which specific investigative activities are performed, by what types of law enforcement personnel, and at what points in the investigative lives of cases (pre- and post-arrest); empirically estimate the effects of those activities on the amount and forms of evidence, and on investigative and prosecutorial outcomes; and identify the factors that affect case attrition in prosecutions. A letter of support from the participating police agency is expected to be provided post-award.
Note: This project contains a research and/or development component, as defined in applicable law, and complies with Part 200 Uniform Requirements - 2 CFR 200.210(a)(14). CA/NCF

Date Created: September 16, 2020