High Tech Gizmos and Gadgetry Yet No Increase in Clearance Rates for Major Crimes

Kaye Beach

April 13, 2012

Interesting article from Steven Spingola, former Milwaukee homicide detective.

Old School Sleuths Weigh-In on Most Current Crop of Detectives

March 31, 2012

. . .Without a doubt, today’s investigators are armed with a wide range of technologies that, just 15-year-ago, were fodder for science fiction novels. Within a matter of minutes, operatives at federally subsidized ‘intelligence fusion’ centers can create a dossier on 98 percent of adult Americans, track the movements of those with cellular devices in real time, use infrared cameras to literally unmask hold-up men, and identify individuals captured on CCTV cameras through facial recognition software. These cameras are literally everywhere—mounted at the top of traffic control poles at busy intersections, on the roof tops of buildings, and inside of many private sector businesses. Advances in DNA technology enable law enforcement to easily include or exclude potential suspects from complicated crime scenes.

Author Miles Kinard profiles a vast array of new law enforcement technologies in his recently released magazine exposé, American Stasi: Fusion Centers and Domestic Spying.


Yet many old school cops argue that these technological advances have done little to increase clearance rates for major crimes.

For example, consider the homicide clearance rate in Milwaukee County.  From 1990 – 1999, prior to the significant advances in DNA testing and the construction of post-9/11 intelligence fusion centers, 84 percent of Milwaukee County homicides were counted as cleared.  However, from 2000 – 2008, Milwaukee County’s homicide clearance rate fell to 72 percent, even as the average number of homicides declined almost 22 percent. [1]

In Dane County, which typically averages fewer than ten homicides a year, the clearance rate from 2000 – 2008 was down four percent from where it was from 1980 – 1999, even though the number of sworn law enforcement officers has significantly increased.[2]

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