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Cold Cases: Strategies Explored at NIJ Regional Trainings

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2008
3 pages
Publication Series
This article reviews the strategies for cold-case investigations discussed at six regional cold-case training sessions sponsored by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ).
A theme of the training sessions was the high value of having a full-time cold-case unit within a police department, although the number of officers dedicated to the unit will differ based on the agency's size and resources. The success of the unit will depend largely on support from top officials. Engaging crime laboratory personnel and prosecutors in the unit's work can significantly increase the success in investigating and analyzing cold cases. Another topic discussed in the training sessions was the selection of which cold cases to investigate. Checklists can help an agency set priorities. Factors that will determine the selection of cold cases for investigation can include statutes of limitation; the availability of witnesses and victims; and whether there is evidence likely to yield more fruitful findings upon reanalysis, perhaps with new technologies. Other topics discussed in the training pertain to cold-case investigative strategies pertinent to victims, witnesses, suspects, the crime scene, and physical evidence.

Date Published: July 1, 2008