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Volume I: Evaluation of the Phoenix Homicide Clearance Project

NCJ Number
Date Published
July 2009
106 pages
This first of three volumes on the management and processing of homicide cases in Phoenix, AZ, and Maricopa County presents the process and impact evaluations for 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, preparing scene reports, developing scene diagrams, and providing other support activities.

Prior to the project, homicide investigators had been responsible for collecting evidence at the crime scene and associated functions. The intent of the project was to increase homicide clearance rates by increasing the time investigators could devote to identifying and questioning potential suspects and witnesses. The process evaluation found that the project was implemented as planned. The outcome evaluation determined that the project was not successful in achieving an increase in the overall homicide clearance rate; however, it did have an impact on the clearances of the more difficult homicide cases, i.e., those in which investigators had to take quick action in identifying and arresting suspects and those difficult cases that required investigators to spend time running down leads in order to identify and question witnesses and persons of interest. Thus, the main benefit of the project was freeing investigators for tasks other than crime scene work. The crime scene specialists were assigned to two of the four investigative squads within the homicide unit. This arrangement provided for a performance evaluation of the squads with crime scene specialists (experimental squads) against the performance of the other squads (comparison squads). The evaluation coded information for all homicides that occurred during the 12-month period prior to the project (195 homicide cases) and the 10-month period after the crime scene specialists began their work (167 homicide cases). 20 exhibits and 69 references

Date Published: July 1, 2009