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The National Case Closed Project: Supporting Law Enforcement Agencies to Improve Crime Clearance Rates for Fatal and Nonfatal Shootings

Helping law enforcement agencies respond to, investigate, and clear violent crimes


To increase crime clearance rates for fatal and nonfatal shootings.


Our team will provide recommendations, training, and technical assistance to 10+ law enforcement agencies with the support of the U.S. Department of Justice Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). We will summarize our findings and recommendations with a practice guide that is applicable for law enforcement use. 


If successful, our work will improve public safety by creating crime clearance tools for law enforcement agencies and provide closure for victims and families of fatal and nonfatal shootings. 

In the past few years, many U.S. cities have experienced a spike in fatal and nonfatal shootings. When these violent crimes take place, law enforcement agencies investigate and work to solve or “clear” as many of them as possible. Despite their efforts, U.S. law enforcement agencies clear fewer than half of all reported violent crimes on average. Between 2015 and 2019, the average violent crime clearance rate was approximately 46%. Importantly, agencies vary in their effectiveness to clear violent crimes: some solve less than 10% of nonfatal shootings and less than 25% of fatal shootings each year. The nationwide uptick in shootings coupled with the economic impact of COVID-19 has taxed law enforcement agencies nationwide and made it even more challenging to clear violent crimes.

Responding to a need for crime clearance rate improvement

In response to the need to improve crime clearance rates, RTI International is leading the National Case Closed Project, an initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA). This project provides targeted and foundational support to improve how law enforcement agencies and their jurisdictional partners respond to, investigate, and successfully clear violent crimes, with an emphasis on fatal and nonfatal shootings.

RTI’s approach to increase crime clearance rates

Research has shown that both agency and investigative characteristics affect the likelihood that a crime is cleared. Research also shows that the relationship between a law enforcement agency and the communities it serves can impact clearance rates through victim and witness participation in investigations.

Knowing this, the National Case Closed project team will address five objectives to identify effective and sustainable practices related to agency operations, resources, investigators, and community relations:

  1. Site selection: Select a minimum of 10 law enforcement agencies for agency assessments.
  2. Evidence-based agency assessment: Conduct a structured assessment using evidence-based models.
  3. Recommendations, training, and technical assistance (TTA): Create and assemble a comprehensive set of resources focused on sustainable and effective change and support sites with implementing changes.
  4. National convenings: Host two national convenings focused on buy-in, recommendations, and impact.
  5. Dissemination: Summarize findings and recommendations with an emphasis on translatable and practical guidance.

RTI and its partners are uniquely positioned to improve public safety and increase clearance rates

RTI has a proven ability to work with law enforcement agencies, conduct high-quality agency assessments, provide TTA to multidisciplinary audiences, and establish evidence-based policies and practices. A particular strength of RTI’s approach is the close integration between executing rigorous assessments that produce actionable recommendations and providing TTA that impacts operations, policies, and practices. TTA will be provided by a team of practitioners and researchers who are national leaders in investigations, evidence collection and crime scene processing, prosecution, victim advocacy, and forensic science. The TTA materials will summarize key findings and recommendations from the agency assessments, with an emphasis on translatable and practical guidance for rapid implementation and sustainable, effective practices that BJA can implement nationally.

In addition to these deliverables, we will work with BJA to develop and disseminate other useful tools and materials for the field, including guides for prioritizing agency expenditures to increase clearance rates and for hiring and developing quality investigators.

Increasing crime clearance rates is an actionable and important way to improve public safety in the United States. Additionally, cleared crimes provide closure to victims and their loved ones after a traumatic event. Findings from the National Case Closed Project will have wide-reaching effects that will benefit law enforcement agencies and civilians across the country.

Feedback from our partners:

I’ve learned that there is a burning desire for law enforcement professionals to offer the best service that we can to our citizens. We all care about our communities; we have family members and loved ones that live in these communities that we serve. So today with the crowd and the diversity of people in the foreroom, it really inspires me, and I’m hopeful that we will be able to serve and protect the way the citizens expect us too.
— Stephanie Mardis, Assistant Chief of Police, Greensboro Police Department (NC)

I wish all survivors could be here to see [this work]. To see law enforcement and RTI really working to help solve and close cases. I know I talk to so many survivors and collect their stories and if they could just see how much you all care, it would make such a difference.
— Debra Gillispie, Founder, Mothers Against Gun Violence, Milwaukee, WI

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RTI has extensive expertise in policing research, evaluation, and technical assistance.

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