News Release 

Lum & Koper studying investigation, clearance rates, victim restoration in robbery cases

George Mason University

Cynthia Lum, Professor, Criminology, Law and Society, and Director, Evidence-Based Crime Policy, and Christopher Koper, Associate Professor, Criminology, Law and Society, are conducting a multi-site randomized experiment with the Rochester (NY) and Seattle (WA) police departments to develop and test a structured and cost-effective investigation protocol for robbery--one of the most common, yet least-solved violent crimes.

The protocol would prompt patrol officers to apply an evidence-based investigative tool to robbery cases that would not otherwise be investigated by detectives based on the agencies' current triage (i.e., solvability assessment) practices.

The proposed one-year experiment would randomly allocate eligible robbery cases in the two agencies to a treatment group that would receive standardized investigative follow-up actions by trained and designated patrol officers, or to a control group that would receive no follow-up investigation. Assigned patrol officers investigating the experimental cases would be instructed to conduct these follow-ups during their non-committed patrol time.

The research team will examine the impact of the intervention on both the probability of robbery clearance and the levels of satisfaction, trust, and confidence that robbery victims have in the police. Survival analysis methods will be used to assess whether the experimental protocol affects the likelihood and timing of case closure. Impacts on citizens' views will be measured through a survey that will be mailed to the victims of robbery cases in the treatment and control groups. This would be the first randomized experiment testing investigative efforts to improve robbery clearances.

Deliverables for the project will include translational and academic articles, guides and reports, and briefings and presentations for the National Institute of Justice and the broader criminal justice research and practitioner communities.

The researchers received $548,246 from the U.S. Department of Justice for this research. Funding began in January 2020 and will conclude in late March 2022.

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