Davis Looks at Britain to Improve Boston Homicide Clearance Rate


Facing a growing backlog of unsolved slayings, Boston police commissioner Edward Davis will overhaul the way his detectives work homicide cases by employing modern sleuthing techniques — such as rapidly flooding murder scenes with a swarm of investigators and forensic experts — in a first-in-the-nation initiative aimed at bringing vicious killers to swift justice, reports the Boston Herald. “My goal is to improve the clearance rate,” said Davis. “To get over the national average (of 65 percent) — and I think that's possible — we need to examine best practices. I want to shoot for the stars with this.”

Davis said the last time a serious study of investigative techniques took place was 1975. “This is the first time in 35 years that anyone will take a hard look at what detectives do,” he said. Davis is looking across the pond to the so-called “British model” for fresh ideas. The murder clearance rate in Boston this year is about 34 percent, the Herald calculates, although Boston police, using the FBI method of calculating, say their clearance rate this year was 55 percent. Keys to the British model are setting strict protocols for approaching each homicide and sending teams of detectives and crime scene specialists, known as “murder squads,” to work the slaying scene in the first 48 hours while clues and witness memories are still fresh. The “golden hour,” immediately after the call comes in, is critical. That's when decisions that lead to quick arrests and successful prosecutions are made, said Eugene O'Donnell of John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York.

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