Homicide Clearance Determinants: An Analysis of Police Departments of the 100 Largest U.S. Cities

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2007-08-10

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Abstract

Clearance rates have dropped throughout the United States over decades, especially for homicide cases. Clearance is the most common measure by academics and the public to evaluate the ability of police agencies. The declining trend of homicide clearance rates implies the inability of police to protect society. The purpose of this study is to determine what police agencies can do to improve homicide clearance rates. The sample contains homicide clearance rates in the 100 largest U.S. cities in 1987, 1990, 1993, 1997, and 2000. The model estimation for this panel data is the Ordinary Lest Squares regression using Fixed-Effects Lease Squares Dummy Variables approach. The model examines the effect of the number of officers, the percent of officers in investigative functions, operating budgets, and computer use on homicide clearance rates. The findings show that three of the determinants (not including budgets) can significantly improve homicide clearance rates for the 100 departments. No determinants of interest are found from the high-clearance departments to prescribe changes for other departments.

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