Case Solvability Factors Assignment Form

Investigative Services Division/Criminal Investigations

This investigative unit, headed by Lt. Ed Hall, is responsible for the follow-up investigation of crimes committed against persons or property as well as certain financial crimes.

Crimes Against PersonsFinancial CrimesCrimes Against Property
RobberyCredit Card FraudAuto Theft
Sex CrimesIdentity TheftEntering Auto
Child Abuse or NeglectCounterfeit MoneyArson
Family ViolenceEmbezzlementTheft by Taking
Elderly AbuseFraudTheft by Receiving
Missing PersonsFinancial Exploitation of the ElderlyCriminal Damage to Property
Home InvasionInternet FraudTheft of Services

Detectives utilize today’s advanced technology to assist them in their investigations.  AVID, a powerful forensic video system, allows detectives to analyze, enhance, clarify and process important video evidence.  IAFIS, the Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System, is a national fingerprint and criminal history system maintained by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).  The IAFIS provides automated fingerprint search capabilities, latent searching capability, electronic image storage, and electronic exchange of fingerprints and responses from the largest biometric database in the world.

Detectives assigned to this unit also work cases involving sudden snatchings, car jackings, unarmed or strong-arm robbery, fugitives from justice, and assists the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) with bank robberies or firearm investigations that occur within the city limits.

Unfortunately, not all incidents can be assigned to be investigated.  Cases are reviewed by supervisors who assign them to detectives based on solvability factors including, among others, the presence of physical evidence and if there are any eyewitnesses to the incident.  Detectives often specialize in one or more particular fields, and are assigned cases based on their area of expertise.  During the course of working a case, a detective may conduct follow-up interviews with victims, witnesses and suspects; process evidence from the crime scene; scour various financial or legal records; track down additional witnesses; conduct surveillance; request and execute search warrants; and arrest suspects.  Investigators commonly appear in court proceedings such as preliminary hearings, trials, and parole revocation hearings.   Sometimes information from confidential informants will aid in a case being solved.  Tipsters can leave information anonymously on the department’s Silent Witness Hotline at 267-5516 or by sending an e-mail message to Criminal Investigations.


Ofc. Larence Harry

Evidence Department

Phone: 267-5559

The evidence section is responsible for returning items to property owners when possible, maintaining detailed records of stored evidence, and disposing of or destroying evidence when ordered by the court.  As the department can easily acquire thousands of pieces of evidence in a year, this is an extremely essential job.  Officer Harry also assists detectives with evidence collection, in Municipal Court security when needed and supervises community service workers assigned to the department.

  • Goal – Understanding a:
    • Management system for continuing investigations that establishes management control over: assigning, coordinating, directing, monitoring and evaluating the overall investigative effort.
  • In the past:
    • Investigations were assigned to the investigator who was on duty at the time of assignment.  
    • The investigator’s caseload was not an issue nor was the priority of the case. 
      • The investigator screened the initial investigation and determined whether the case was worth serious pursuit
  • Managers were only vaguely kept informed concerning the progress of the case. 
  • Lack of managerial control – shortcomings
    - inequitable caseloads
    - improper assignment of cases
    - incorrect priority decisions
    - lateness of investigator response
    - lack of investigative continuity 
  • The establishment of a management system is intended to increase the number of case investigations of serious crimes that are cleared by prosecutable arrests of criminals responsible

§        Establishing Administrative Controls

  • Master Case File must be established.
  • Case file controlled by the same case number as originally assigned. 
  • The case file should contain a complete record of the status of the case.

§        The case file should include:

  • An log sheet to record inclusions in the file
  • A copy of the initial investigation report
  • An investigative plan
  • Lab reports
  • Investigator’s checklist
  • Calendar of review dates on case progress
  • Supplemental investigation reports
  • Photographs

§        Case Status Log

  • Develop & maintain a case status log based upon the following definitions:
  • Cleared:
    • An arrest has been made and arrestee(s) have been charged with the commission of the offense in question and turned over to the court for prosecution.
  • Exceptional Clearance:
    • The identity and the address or exact location of the offender is known and
    • sufficient evidence exists to make an arrest and charge the offender
    • However, a reason outside the agency’s control does not allow the agency to arrest and charge the suspect
      • An example of an exceptional clearance is when the suspect is known but has died or is being charged in another jurisdiction
  • Open:
    • An ongoing investigation.  If the investigation has exhausted all leads, yet the possibility remains that new facts may come to light given ongoing inquiry, the case shall remain open.
  • Unfounded: 
    • The offense did not occur.
  • Inactive:
    • When all potentially fruitful leads have been exhausted an investigation may be classified as inactive.  An investigation may be reactivated and assigned to an investigator’s active caseload if sufficient new leads are developed.

§        Case Assignment

  • Develop a procedure for case assignment based upon equitable caseloads and investigator skills
  • Establish a case assignment record to be completed by the investigation supervisor 
  • The case assignment record should contain the following information:
    • date case assigned
    • case number
    • review decision dates
    • case closing date
    • reason for closure
    • reason for continuation
  • Develop a means for assigning cases based on their seriousness and in accordance with priorities based on the presence of solvability factors

§        Solvability Factors

  • suspect in custody                       
  • suspect named or known
  • unique suspect identifiers
  • vehicle in custody
  • unique vehicle identifiers
  • reviewer discretion
  • general suspect description
  • unique method of operation or crime pattern
  • significant physical evidence
  • traceable stolen property
  • witnesses

§        Progress and Performance

  • Implement mechanisms for documenting progress of case investigations and individual investigator performance:
    • Investigator’s daily and monthly workload report-provides basic information on:
      • cases assigned, dispositions of cases, and arrest information
      • There is also a separate accounting for exceptional clearances
  • Unit monthly workload report-provides the same basic information for the entire investigative unit:
    • Monthly arrest/clearance performance, individual investigators:
      • provides information on individual performance for each member of the unit
    • Unit arrest performance, prosecutor acceptance:
      • provides information on prosecutor acceptance of arrests
      • Similar information for each investigator could be revealing of individual performance
      • Summary

·          Law enforcement administrators have increasingly recognized the necessity for establishing a management system for the investigative process.

·           Although no system is a panacea, having no system at all is a disaster

  • Managing the continuing investigation process will result in the assignment of cases more equitably and more effectively
  • It will improve the quality of case investigation and preparation and provide monitoring of investigation progress
  • Additionally, it provides management a means of ensuring investigator accountability
  • The purpose of this lesson is to familiarize the participant with a basic understanding of the first step to managing criminal investigations:
      • Screening cases to systematically separate “unsolvable” cases from those offering a reasonable potential for successful closure through investigation
      • Introduction
  • Traditionally, law enforcement agencies have conducted some form of investigation on almost every reported crime, despite the fact that many crimes will not be solved by such investigative effort.
  • Case screening is a management tool that facilitates making a decision concerning the continuation of an investigation based upon the existence of sufficient solvability factors obtained at the initial investigation
  • Solvability factors are those elements of information regarding a crime which:
  • based upon past experience have proven to be important in determining the probability of a successful conclusion to the investigation
  • Develop a process for screening out predictably “unsolvable” cases by reviewing solvability factors
  • Identity solvability factors
  • Some factors commonly used will be discussed, however this is not at all inclusive list
  • Each agency should evaluate and establish their own factors
  • Suspect information:
  • Suspect named
  • Suspect description
  • Suspect location
  • Can suspect be identified
  • Vehicle Information
  • Vehicle description
  • Vehicle license number
  • Vehicle occupant identification
  • Was identifiable or traceable property taken?
  • Were there witnesses to the incident?
  • Was there physical evidence present?
  • Fingerprints?
  • DNA?
  • Footprints, tire tracks?
  • Is there a recognizable crime pattern involving several crimes?
  • Assigning a numerical value to solvability factors:
  • A predetermined value is attached to each solvability factor and the sum of those values serve as the screening decision criteria
  • The system requires an analysis of each solvability factor to determine the values that should be attached to the various levels of evidence supporting the presence of a particular solvability factor
  • Assigning a point value will enable a more precise match of investigation effort to solvability factors
  • Cases can be further rated as high solvability, medium, low and very low
  • The process should require that cases identified as not solvable because of insufficient success criteria be inactivated
  • The highest value is assigned to those factors that have the greatest potential for solving the crime
  • Named suspect has proven to be the strongest solvability factor
  • Vehicle identification that leads to a suspect
  • Lesser values are assigned to factors that have the potential to develop further information with continued investigation
  • The role of the Screener:
  • The case screener is to ensure that screening criteria is consistently applied to all cases and that all available information is utilized in conjunction with the solvability factors
  • Solvability factors alone are not the sole criteria for determining if the case will be assigned for further investigation.  Other critical factors should be considered
  • Gravity of the offense
  • Felony or misdemeanor; violent crime vs. property crime
  • Urgency of the offense or community involvement
  • Probability of solution
  • Management judgment

§       Informing the Victim

  • The victim of every crime expects the law enforcement agency to continue investigating the offense until there is a successful conclusion, namely a suspect is arrested
  • In reality, there are many cases that will never be solved despite investigative efforts.  The victims should be advised of the decision to suspend the case and advised the reason, lack of workable information
  • Victims should be informed that should additional information be developed the case may be reactivated
  • There are two generally accepted methods of informing the victims:
    • The initial responding officer can advise the victim that the initial investigation did not produce sufficient evidence to justify further investigation
    • The victim can be informed by letter once the investigation report has been reviewed by the case screener and the investigation supervisor

§       Summary

  • Case screening is designed to:
    • Provide sufficient information about a case at the earliest possible time in the investigative process
    • Allow a decision to be made with respect to the desirability of continuing to commit investigative resources in the case

§       Crime Trend Analysis

§        Capturing Information

  • Questions?
    • What are you doing now to capture the crime trends in your area?
    • What types of crimes do you track?
    • How do you get the information necessary to track crimes?
    • Who is responsible for maintaining any crime analysis being done?
    • Where is this information kept?
    • Is it visual? Handwork or computer?
    • Who do you share this information with in your area?
    • Are your counterparts in the next areas tracking crimes?
    • How do you share crime information with them?
    • What reports do you routinely make to upper management?
    • If you observe a pattern of crimes, what do you do with this knowledge?
    • Who do you have available to proactively prevent crime or catch criminals based on analysis.

·        Factors to Consider

  • Type of crime
  • Location
  • Victims
  • Time of day
  • Property stolen
  • Clothing
  • Masks
  • How many involved
  • Violence present
  • Type of violence
  • Weapons used
  • Statements made
  • Familiar with area
  • Vehicles used
  • ____________?
  • ____________?

·       Types of Crimes

  • What categories of crime can be analyzed with success?
    • Property crimes
    • Robberies
    • Vehicle thefts
    • Some assaults,  Which types of assaults?
    • Others?
  • Property crimes
    • Break-ins
    • Thefts
    • Criminal Damage
    • _________?
    • _________?
  • Robberies
    • Personal
    • Commercial
    • Location
    • Planned
    • Repeated
    • ________?
  • Vehicle thefts
    • Type being stolen
    • Location stolen
    • Location recovered
    • Keys
    • Vehicle damage
  • Some assaults
    • Enmity
    • More than one rape
    • Specific groups of people
    • __________?

§        Usually not predictable

  • Family violence (unless you are aware)
  • Hit and miss crime (no patterns)
  • Murder (usually known by victim)
  • Child crimes inside home
    • Depend on other authorities to help
  • High tech crime (white collar)
  • ____________________?

§        Crime Trend Information

  • Gather it
  • Centralize it
  • Visualize it
  • Analyze it
  • Share it
  • Act on it


  • Defining a crisis:
  • One person in charge
  • Establish Command, Control and Discipline
  • Allow person in Command to Command
  • Control the Crisis – don’t make it worse
  • Gather and share information
  • Document all actions and decisions
  • Deal with Facts not Assumptions
  • The Team Resolves the Crisis

      • Elements of a Major Case Investigation:
      • Mission      -     Roles -   Stakeholders - Perception - Long-term – Pressure

·        Mission

o       Know what the mission is

o       Why you are there

o       How you are expected yo achieve the mission

·        Roles

o       Understand your role and that of the other participants.

o       Prevents role conflict

·        Stakeholders

o       Multiple stakeholders that have a distinct interest in the outcome

o       Identify stakeholders and develop a strategy that assists in meeting their needs

·        Perception

o       Police perceived by stakeholders in ways that can help or hurt the mission

o       Need to be aware

o       How are your actions going to be perceived

·        Long-term

o       Short and long term consequences

o       Allow investigators to focus on short term solution

o       Managers pay attention to long term consequences and case impact

·         Pressure

o       Pressure to “solve the case”

o       Inhibits long term outlook



  • Managers / Supervisors
  • Investigators
  • Evidence Team
  • Laboratory
  • Record keeping process
  • Intelligence Analysts
  • Review Teams
  • Liaison Teams
  • ------------------
  • ------------------
  • ------------------
  • ------------------


  • Know what the mission is
  • Know what the crime is
  • Know what the violation of law is
  • Know what is needed to prove the crime

§       Task Assignments

  • Preserve and photograph the crime scene
  • Prepare logs
  • Recover  and log evidence
  • Properly store evidence
  • Identify witnesses
  • Interview witnesses
  • Insist on attention to detail
  • Record results
  • Investigators do not assume
  • Investigators deal with facts

§        Sample Protocol

·        Initial Response

o       Evacuation

o       Rescue

o       Fire / Medical

·        Maintenance of Law & Order

o       ( crowd control )

·        Traffic Management

o       Ingress / Egress

o       Regular Movement of People

·        Crime Scene Investigation

o       Secure

o       Control

o       Sweep / Search

o       Photograph

o       Collect

·        Damage Control and Apprehension



  • What do you need to know to prove the crime
  • What do we know about the crime
  • Can we reconstruct the crime
  • Type of Crime
  • Location
  • Probability for solution
  • Was it planned or unplanned
  • Establish time, motive, method
  • Crime of passion or pre-planned?
  • Look for mistakes - always there
  • Focus on Neighborhood
  • Use Imagination: Encourage imagination
  • Are existing resources sufficient to achieve case solution?
  • Will the resources adapt to the major case?
  • What other resources need to be brought in?
    • Who authorizes them?
    • For how long?        
      • Under whose authority do they serve?
      • Who are they responsible to?
  • Existing  Standard Operating Procedures make for a good foundation as they are familiar
  • Design planned meetings to discuss investigative mission
  • Insure all involved know their assignments and role
  • Daily Oral Briefings
  • Summary Written Reports
  • Detailed Written Reports
  • Foster Open Communication
  • Who Is Supposed to Know
    • About what?
    • From whom?
  • Who is in charge overall?
  • Who is in charge of different teams/shifts?
  • Who is in charge of:
    •  investigative decisions
    • administrative decisions
  • Who is in charge if boss is unavailable?
    • Line of succession?   Who steps up?
  • What responsibilities have been delegated in event of unavailability?
    • Who does what?    Do they know?
  • Who should be aware of emergency procedures?


  • Do you set time frame for resolution / solution

                                       WHY OR WHY NOT     

  • Establish system of Information control
  • Investigate ALL information
  • Monitor Results / Reporting of information
  • Are you selective in who you assign information to?
  • Is there a place for inexperienced team members?
  • Is there a place on the team for non law enforcement?
  • Do you work around the clock?
  • Do you work all week(s)?
  • Can you afford to allow for time off?
  • What shift do key managers work?
      • What key managers does the commander need to have?
      • Guidelines for Managing Personnel in a Major Case
      • Guidelines
  • Focus on Organization
  • Organize for the Long Term
  • Organize from Broad to Specific
  • Organize by Task / Function (specialty)
  • Establish Teams of Tasks / Functions
  • Do Not Let Task Control Outcome
  • Establish and Focus on Mission - Identify Goals
  • Advertise Mission and Goals within the team
  • Assess performance as related to goal achievement
  • Hold Frequent Conferences - With a Purpose
  • Have Daily Analysis - Use Analysis Results
  • Carefully Select those Responsible for Analysis


§       Guidelines for Major Case Managers


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