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METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT
Office of Quality Assurance, Office of Chief of Police
300 Indiana Avenue, N.W., Room 5059, Washington,
D.C. 2000 · (202) 727-4301 · Fax (202)727-3896
June 26, 2001
To: Charles H. Ramsey, Chief of Police
From: Stephen J. Gaffigan, Senior Executive Director,
Office of Quality Assurance
SUBJECT: Progress Report on Homicide Reviews
Attached for your information is a progress report on the
efforts of the Homicide Review Team. It describes their efforts in
assessing cases as well as a variety of other activities that members that
members of the team have performed.
Two items are especially noteworthy in the report. One
is that team members assisted the Institute for Police Sciences (IPS) in
developing the criminal investigations course that was recently delivered
to 26 newly appointed detectives. The other is that the ILJ staff has
developed a mapping capability using the homicide database for the eleven
year period, 19902000. Samples of maps using year 2000 homicides are
provided in the appendix to the report. Other maps can now be produced
based on pre-determined criteria, such as selected years, months, motive,
open/closed status, etc.
Back to top of page
Homicide Case Reviews
In September 2000, Chief Charles Ramsey directed the Department's Office
of Quality Assurance to conduct a review of homicide cases for the
eleven-year period, 1990-2000. The mission of this office is to ensure the
quality of all operational and support units with the Department. In
particular, it is tasked with auditing and reviewing performance and
systems with the aim of improving overall efficiency and effective. A
review of homicide cases naturally came under this Office's mission.
The Office of Quality Assurance set the following objectives for the
- Determine whether closed homicide cases have thoroughly investigated
and properly closed according to the standards established by the
FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) system.
- Record information on "solvability factors" for all open
and closed cases with the aim of identifying those factors that most
likely lead to successful arrests of offenders.
- Code ViCAP (Violent Criminal Apprehension Program) forms on all
homicides for submission to the FBI's national database in accordance
with the Memorandum of Understanding signed between Chief Ramsey and
the FBI to provide this information.
- Assist in the improvement of investigative training classes at the
Department's Institute for Police Sciences.
All major police departments across the country adhere to guidelines
provided by the FBI's UCR program for classifying crimes and designating
cases as closed. The FBI publishes annual statistics on crimes reported to
the police and arrests made by police departments on major offenses using
information provided by local police agencies.
To conduct the study, the MPDC made the decision to contract with an
qualified firm to ensure that the reviews were completed in a completely
objective manner. As a result of that decision, a contract was signed with
the Institute for Law and Justice, Inc. (ILJ), a nationally recognized
criminal justice research organization headquartered in Alexandria,
ILJ's initial task was to analyze the homicide database maintained by
the Investigative Support unit under the Department's Special Operations.
The database contains information on every homicide including victim's
name, incident address, home address of victim, date of incident, status
of case (closed/open), initial detectives assigned, district of
occurrence, and other relevant information. A separate database is
maintained for each year. ILJ merged the 11 years of homicides into one
database for easier access. Since that time, ILJ has maintained and
improved the database.
Initial analysis of the database showed a total of 4,061 homicides over
the 11-year period.1 Of that number, the MPDC
has closed 2,361 homicides (58.2 %) and 1,700 homicides (41.9 %) remain
open. More information on these cases is provided later in this report.
ILJ contracted with 11 retired homicide investigators to participate in
this study. Eight retired from the MPDC, two from the Baltimore, Maryland,
Police Department, and one from the United State Postal Service. All had
extensive experience in investigating homicides. For the project, the MPDC
provided space in headquarters near the file room that contains all master
case jackets for homicides. ILJ staff developed a coding form for
summarizing the results of the reviews of closed cases. Over several
weeks, the review team carefully read the master case jackets for closed
cases and assessed the investigative results based on information in the
The most significant finding of the reviews of closed cases is that
virtually all were investigated properly and closed correctly according to
the FBI's UCR guidelines. The review team did, however, recommend that 35
cases be reopened for investigation. These have been assigned to
detectives in the field for further investigation. In virtually all these
35 cases, the reason for continued investigative attention is that not all
offenders have been arrested. That is, in most of these cases, at least
one offender was arrested but additional offenders remain at large. Under
UCR guidelines, these cases can be considered "closed" because
one arrest was made. The official designation of these cases within the
MPDC is "closed active" indicating that at least one arrest has
been made but more investigation is warranted.
In addition to the basic mission to review closed cases, the review
team has been involved in supporting several other initiatives within the
MPDC to improve the investigations of homicides. These activities are
discussed in the following sections.
Develop Criminal Investigator's Training Course
Members of the review team were asked to participate in the development
of a new investigator's training course that was delivered May 10-30,
2001, to 26 recently appointed detectives. Course development was a joint
effort with members of the Institute for Police Sciences (IPS), which
serves as the MPDC's training academy. The complete curriculum for the three-week
training course is provided as Appendix A to this report. The
course was developed around six phases of criminal investigation:
Key features of the course included the following:
- Phase I: Establish the Circumstances of the Crime
- Phase II: Extract Leads
- Phase III: Develop Suspect Profile
- Phase IV: Locate and Apprehend Suspect
- Phase V: Preparing Arrest Paperwork
- Phase VI: Support Case Prosecution
- Practical exercises for each phase
- A mock trial to teach courtroom testimony
- Use of qualified outside speakers on specialized topics, such as
- Homework assignments to students on upcoming topics.
- Issuance of a CD with an extensive DNA training module.
- Instruction in the use of WACIIS which serves as the MPDC's primary
investigative and intelligence system.
Find or Reconstruct Missing Case Jackets
During the course of the reviews, it was determined that a total of 378
master case jackets were missing from the file room. The review team was
able to locate 246 of the missing jackets and return them to the file
room. Many were obtained from prosecutors in the USAO's Office and from
investigators assigned to district stations. The team reconstructed 132
missing case jackets by (1) retrieving reports available through the
MPDC's WACHS investigative system, (2) obtaining incident and arrest
reports from the MPDC's Records Room, and (3) copying death and autopsy
reports from the Medical Examiner's Office. Through the efforts, the
review team was able to review the cases for the purposes of this study.
Many of these case jackets had been missing for several years. In a
previous study of homicides conducted in 1995, over 600 case jackets were
missing from the file room. No effort was made at that time to
systematically find or reconstruct the case jackets.
As a result of this study, the file room has the most complete and
accurate information on homicides in over ten years.
Members of the review team currently maintain the custody and integrity
of the homicide file room. New procedures are in place that minimize the
possibility of losing case folders. The MPDC has installed a copier in the
file room so that detectives can make copies of information from folders
rather than removing the original. The review team assists detectives in
locating master case jackets and related cases from the files.
Assist in Development of Homicide Standard Operating Procedures
The review team has been instrumental in developing and review the
Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) for homicide investigations that is
now in place. The SOP covers all aspects of homicide investigations with
detailed information on the roles and responsibilities of first
responders, lead detectives, supervisors and others.
In addition, review team members currently are developing a four-hour
training module on the SOP that will be delivered by IPS personnel to all
supervisors of homicide investigations. The module will emphasize the role
of supervisors in monitoring and guiding these important investigations.
Members of the review team also assisted the IPS staff in developing a
First Responder's video for roll call training on the Homicide SOP. The
contribution of the team members was to ensure that the video showed best
practices for the field from arrival at a homicide scene to completion of
all paperwork to support the investigation.
Assist Superintendent of Detectives
The Superintendent of Detectives officially started his duties on June
11, 2001 with responsibilities for overseeing all investigators in the
MPDC. The review team has held meetings with the Superintendent giving the
results of the reviews and providing recommendations for improving
In the future, it is expected that the review team will assist the
Superintendent and his staff in investigations. Such assistance may take
the form of researching specific cases or assisting in the actual
investigations of selected homicides.
Access WACIIS for Master Case Jackets
As part of its review efforts, team members have been regularly
accessing the WACHS system, which serves as the primary intelligence and
investigative system for MPDC detectives. The WACHS system was recently
upgraded with enhanced capabilities including the ability to enter more
information on victims and suspects, capturing digital photographs of
crime scenes, and printing key MPDC reports (MPDC Forms 251, 252, 163, and
others). The upgraded system went on-line in January 2001.
Map Homicides in the City
ILJ staff members have developed a mapping capability for the MPDC that
will allow investigators to prepare maps of where homicides are occurring
in the city. Appendix B to this report shows a set of 13 different maps to
illustrate this capability. The maps show the locations of homicides for
year 2000. The appendix includes a citywide map of homicides, three ROC
maps, seven district maps, and two PSA maps.
Maps can now be produced based on a variety of criteria. For example,
maps can be made by selecting a time period (year, month, day of week,
etc.), a geographic area (citywide, ROC, district, PSA), motive (drug,
domestic violence, argument, etc.), type of victim (male, female), age of
victim (juvenile, adult), and other criteria.
Code Solvability Factors for Closed and Open Homicide Cases
In addition to making determinations on closed cases, review team
members have undertaken the task of capturing "solvability
factors" for all open and closed cases. These solvability factors are
based on a study conducted by Dr. Charles Wellford and Mr. James Cronin
entitled An Analysis of Variables Affecting Clearance of Homicides: A
Multi-state Study (Justice Research and Statistics Association,
October, 1909). His study was based on a review of homicide cases in five
selected sites across the country.
The solvability factors captured by the homicide review team at the MPDC
cover information about the victim (gang member, employment status, prior
arrests, etc.), number of witnesses identified at the scene, photographs
taken, computer checks made, medical examiner results, and other
information. In the next phase of the project, the solvability factors for
closed cases will be compared against those for open cases with the view
of identifying investigative priorities.
Provide ViCAP Forms to FBI National Database
Review team members have been completing ViCAP (Violent Criminal
Apprehension Program) forms on all open and closed cases that have been
reviewed. The ViCAP program is a nationwide data information center which
collects, collates, and analyzes crimes of violence -- specifically murder.
Its overarching goal is to identify offenses with common characteristics
from different jurisdictions. Cases submitted to ViCAP are compared to all
other cases in the database in an attempt to identify similar cases. Once
a similar case has been identified, the agencies involved are notified of
the similar cases.
The ViCAP forms completed by the review team will be forwarded to the
FBI for inclusion in the national database. Information about these cases
will therefore be available to investigators across the country. The ViCAP
database for the 4,061 homicides will be accessible in the future by
district detectives through linkage with the WACIIS system. Intelligence
analysts at the MPDC will also be able to provide better information about
homicides in the city through the local ViCAP database.
Analysis of Homicides in the District
As a result of this project, the MPDC now has more information about
homicides in the city than at any time in its past. Information about
specific cases is available through the databases that have been developed
during the course of the study. Master case jackets are now available on
all homicides in the city. Because of improved management of the file
room, there are no missing case jackets.
In addition to specific case information, the MPDC will soon be in a
position to analyze homicides in the city to a much greater extent than
has been possible in the past. The progress on this analysis is the
subject of this section of the report. In the coming months, all the forms
on solvability factors and all ViCAP forms will be entered into the
systems and be available for a more extensive analysis of homicides than
is possible for this report. However, the following discussion shows the
types of analysis that will be possible in the future.
From the database maintained on all homicides in the city, we know the
following about the characteristics of victims of homicides over the
eleven years, 1990-2000.
- The number of homicides has decreased substantially since 1990:
Homicides for the last two years (1999-2000) are about half what they
were at the start of the decade (1990-1991).
- 3,760 (92.6 %) African-American victims
158 (3.9 %) white victims 143 (3.5 %)
other races (Hispanic, Asian, etc.)
- 3,558 (87.6 %) male victims
503 (12.4 %) female victims
- The average age of homicide victims was 28.5 years (31.9 years for
females and 28.0 for males)
- There were 153 instances in which 2 persons were killed, 20
incidents with 3 victims, and 1 incident with 4 victims.
- About 20 percent of the homicides involved drugs.
- Firearms were used in about 79 % of the homicides. Knives or other
sharp objects in 12 % of homicides Blunt object in about 5 % of
- 95 % of defendants were males. Most were 18 to 25 years of age.
- Based on 490 ViCAP booklets, the motives for homicides were as
||Percent of Cases
As part of this project, the review team submitted a report to the
Department summarizing its observations on the quality of homicide
investigations. That report also contained a series of recommendations, in
addition to the efforts described above, for improving investigations. The
Department is in the process of accepting many of these suggestions. The
following shows the action items that the Department intends to take as a
result of the review team's recommendations. The exhibit shows the problem
area identified by the team, recommended action, and anticipated due date.
More than one motive can be recorded in ViCAP for a case. This table
shows 691 motives for the 490 cases, or an average of 1.4 motives per
case. The percent in the last column is based on the 490 cases.
Training is of particular importance to the MPDC in its efforts to improve
homicide investigations. To summarize, the planned training efforts are as
Improper 304.1 closures
|| Strict adherence to the Homicide SOP outlining FBI standards for exceptional clearances
Case jackets improperly
|| Detectives directed by Chief Gainer to immediately correct their families and follow the
formatting in revised Memo 00-01
Case jackets not updated
with original documents
and additional information
such as case reassignments,
new evidence, forensic re
ports and grand jury indictments
|| Memo sent out to all seven districts from Chief Gainer's office to send any missing paperwork from master case jackets
Unsigned and unnumbered
|| Addendum to Homicide SOP outlining procedures for numbering warrants
of SOP (July 2001)
Lack of supervisory case
|| Regular review of detectives' case jackets and include updates in UN-512 Supervisory
Poorly formatted weekly
|| Structured format of weekly meetings created
Effective June 13, 2001
Poor communications with
|| Continued maintenance of Hotline; research and review of family requests; new unit?
Lack of experienced investigators
|| New Investigator schools and more frequent training
First school took place May 10th-May 30th, 2001;
Second school will take place September 2001
Lack of experienced investigator supervisors
|| New curriculum developed for Investigative Supervisors' Training Course
Lack of familiarization with
|| Command Staff Training; Sergeants and Lieutenants workshop; department-wide
dissemination with roll call video and training
2001; July 2001; July 2001
- All MPD Operation's supervisors, sergeants and lieutenants will attend
a four-hour training block to obtain a working knowledge of the Homicide
Command Staff training is under development for the department's senior
command above the rank of Captain. The purpose of this leadership training
is to build a team approach around the implementation of the Homicide SOP,
focusing on management for results. This training will be a two-day,
off-site seminar scheduled for early August.
- Another course scheduled for early August 2001 is intended to enhance
the investigative supervisors skills in managing an investigative unit.
- The next three-week criminal investigators training course is under
development. It will build on the recently completed course and will be
ready for delivery in September 2001.
The MPDC intends to use members of the homicide review team in future
months for a variety of other tasks. These will include (1) investigation
of selected open homicides, (2) continued development of training courses
at the IPS, (3) reviews of other violent crimes, including sexual
assaults, robberies, and burglaries.
In addition, the NTDC intends to formally link the local ViCAP database
with its WACHS system so that full information on each homicide will be
available to investigators. This linkage will be done through a contract
with ACISS, Inc., the developers of the WACHS system.
The homicide database developed by the review team will be recommended
for official use by the MPDC. The advantage of this database is that it
includes more information than the currently available database and has
more accurate information on all homicides. To accomplish this task, input
screens for new homicides will be developed and queries will be added for
us by Investigations Support personnel.
Finally, the review team will develop a publication to provide the
public with information on homicides in the city, where they are
occurring, when they are occurring, the reasons for them, and other
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METROPOLITAN POLICE DEPARTMENT
Maurice T. Turner, Jr., Institute of Police Science
2001 CRIMINAL INVESTIGATOR TRAINING COURSE SCHEDULE
||Introduction to WACIIS for 20 members from
0630 to 1500 hours
|Phase I Continued: Establish the
Circumstances of the Crime
Access Scene and Establish Crime Scene
||Pre-Test: Evaluating a Case Jacket
||Overview of the Criminal Investigation Process
Ex. Asst. Chief Gainer
||Introduction to WACIIS for 20 members from
1530 to 2400 hours
||Phase I: Establish the Circumstances of the Crime
Immediate vs. Follow-up assignments, Overview of phase Tasks,
Authority at the scene
||Introduction to the Investigator's Notebook: How to
Build a Case
SPO Joe Haggerty
Debriefing Facilitators: SP Haggerty and Neil Trugman
|Phase II Continued:
Subconscious Communications: Conducting Interviews and
Chief Rhoads (guest instructor)
|Phase II Continued:
Subconscious Communications: Conduction Interviews and
Chief Rhoads (guest instructor)
SPO Haggerty and Neil Trugman
Officers Brantly and Webster
||Phase II: Extract Leads
Crime Scene Processing and Handling Evidence
|Access Workable Leads
|Phase III: Develop Suspect Profile
Using Nicknames, associates, physical description, modus operandi,
motive to develop identification of offender
Obtaining Cooperation from Witnesses
|Subconscious Communications: Conducting
Interview and Interrogations
Chief Rhoads (guest instructor)
||Working all leads to identify the offender, such as
fingerprints, composite sketches (E-fit) firearm evidence and
||How to Set up a Case in WACIIS (hands-on)
||WACIIS block on searching MPDC databases for
||Phase III continued:
Developing confidential informants
Following leads from Pawn Shops and Second Hand Dealers
Developing a psychological profile
|Investigator's Notebook Debriefing
||Phase IV continued: 0830-0930 ViCAP
Using investigative and patrol resources to locate suspect
Giving Miranda Warning and other legal issues
|Phase V: Paper the Case
Preparation of arrest paperwork and presentation of case to USAO/OCC
for court papering.
|Phase V: Support Case Prosecution
Heidi Pasichow and Stephanie Garbarczuk
||Phase IV: Locate and Apprehend Suspect
Eyewitness identifications: Photo arrays, line-ups, show-ups and mug
Paul Carroll (guest speaker)
||Using the Media to help identify and locate the
||Obtaining warrants and conducting searches
Paul Carroll (guest lecturer)
|Giving Miranda Warning and other legal issues
||Phase VI: Support Case Prosecution
Preliminary hearings, Grand Jury proceedings, post-arrest
Investigation, testifying, maintaining contact with victims.
Facilitators: AUSAs and Lt. McAllister
|Phase VI continued:
Presenting Courtroom Testimony and Courtroom Communication Styles
||WACIIS Lab for 3 hours of instruction
||Phase V, VI Practicum:
Moot Court Debriefing
||1. Working with other detectives
2. Managing a caseload.
3. Case dispositions
Facilitator: Lt. McAllister
||Post-Test: Evaluating a Case Jacket
Back to top of page
Appendix B: Maps of District Homicides, 1998-2000
Not available on-line
Back to top of page
1. The database also includes 103 justifiable homicides
over the 11-year period. These were not included in the study.
2. The other ViCAP booklets are in the process of
getting entered into the national database. When that is completed, a more
extensive analysis will be possible.