Our Grants

Clearance Rates: Reducing Gun Violence by Improving Police Investigations

Overview

This study will estimate the cost and impact of the Chicago Police Department's Area Technology Centers (ATCs) on arrest rates for homicide and nonfatal-shooting investigations. A related study will consider alternative measures of police performance in shooting cases, including variants of the 'clearance by arrest' rate.

Status

Awarded

Purpose

The first purpose is to determine whether improved technology and special technical staff in the new Area Technology Centers have assisted Chicago detectives in solving homicides. The second purpose is to provide a data-based guide and set of recommendations concerning alternative measures of police performance in shooting investigations.

Approach

The Chicago Police Department created three Area Technology Centers (ATCs) in 2019 to assist detectives in obtaining and processing video and other digital evidence related to shooting cases. The first ATC, in Area South, operated for five months before the creation of other ATCs. A quasi-experimental impact evaluation will compare investigation success rates in Area South with the rest of the city before and during its initial operation. This analysis will be supplemented with data on case processing, and interview data with detectives on their use of ATC inputs. A second project will utilize 20 years of data from Chicago and other large cities to develop a best-practice guide for representing police performance in gun violence. The analysis will consider alternative investigative endpoints (arrest, felony review, conviction), alternative cutoffs (end of year, open ended), and adjustments for changing case mix to determine the effect on observed patterns over time and across communities.

Significance

Improving success rates for police investigations of firearms violence in Chicago and other large cities could help curtail violence. The Police Department's ATCs are a promising innovation. A systematic evaluation will help determine whether they are cost-effective and why. This work will also provide broader guidance on measuring police performance.

Investigator Bios

  • Philip J. Cook is Terry Sanford Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at Duke University. He is one of the world's leading experts on the economics of crime. In 2020 he was named co-winner of the 2020 Stockholm Prize in Criminology for his research on gun violence. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a fellow of the American Society of Criminology.
  • Jens Ludwig is Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy, and director of the University of Chicago Crime Lab. He has 20 years of experience with large-scale research projects with government partners, including service as project director for the $17 million long-term follow-up of HUD's Moving to Opportunity experiment. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine.
Grant Amount
$670,684
Award Type
Research
Organization
University of Chicago Crime Lab
Investigators
Philip J. Cook, Terry Sanford Professor Emeritus of Public Policy at Duke University; and Jens Ludwig, Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy.
Expected Completion Date
July 2022
Year Awarded
2020
Focus Areas
Urban Gun Violence
Intervention Research