The e-newsletter of the COPS Office | Volume 1 | Issue 2 | February 2008

What's New from COPS

Building a 311 System: A Case Study of the Orange County, Florida, Government Service Center

cover of Building a 311 System The establishment of 311 call systems in jurisdictions across the United States is relieving 911 emergency systems of the burden of handling calls that are not emergencies. This publication documents the experiences of Orange County, Florida, in organizing and putting into operation a multijurisdictional, nonemergency 311 telephone system. Topics discussed include the political, financial, and technological challenges involved in intergovernmental partnerships and interagency coordination. The publication also covers developing call routing and tracking mechanisms, staffing a 311 call center, and the role that the Orange County 311 system plays in hurricane emergency preparedness. The publication is available online only.

Promoting Effective Homicide Investigations

cover of Promoting Effective Homicde Although the national homicide rate has fluctuated, the homicide clearance rate has declined steadily, with a drop from 92 percent in 1961 to 61 percent in 2005. This decline is the result of a number of factors, including an increase in “stranger homicides,” which are more difficult to solve than “acquaintance homicides.”

During this same period, however, some police departments have maintained consistently high clearance rates. The 90 percent clearance rate of the San Jose, California, Police Department is partially attributable to its mandatory rotation policy, which requires specialized assignment detective to return to patrol every 5 or 6 years. The logic behind this policy is to maintain a patrol force that includes officers and sergeants with investigative training and experience.

This information is from a new resource, “Promoting Effective Homicide Investigations,” which addresses changing trends in homicides and their influence on the declining clearance rate. The result of a collaboration between the COPS Office and the Police Executive Research Forum, this publication outlines practices, policies, and procedures that can increase the number of successful homicide investigations for law enforcement agencies. Law enforcement executives, administrators, investigators, and prosecutors will learn about the latest developments in eyewitness identification, videotaped interrogations, DNA, and cold case squads. Also included are examples from several departments that have implemented some of the highlighted practices.

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