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August 11th, 2006

Cold Case Quick Facts

I have a list of facts that I take with me to interviews, in case I freeze and can’t remember something. It’s many pages long, but here are some highlights.

– The first Cold Case Squad was in Florida. In 1979, the Metro-Dade Police Department (now the Miami-Dade Police Department) created the first cold case squad in the United States. They called it the Pending Case Squad. There were some problems, and the squad was disbanded. They tried again 1983, and solved a 1982 murder of a little girl, and by 1984 they decided to formally give it another go, this time calling it the Cold Case Squad.

– The NYPD has the largest Cold Case Squad in the country, the next largest is in Los Angeles.

– There are just under 9,000 unsolved murders in New York since 1985.
– Los Angeles, the next largest city in America, had 8,000 from 1960 to 2004.
– For comparison, Fairfax, VA, has 75 going back to 1964.

– The number of unsolved murders is always going up, never down. In 2005, murder went up 4.8% nationally, but the clearance rate for that year is 62.6%. All over America, more than a third of all murder cases go cold.

– In New York, an unsolved murder has up to 5 – 10% chance of being cleared within one year after it goes cold. After two years, that chance decreases to less than 1%.

– DNA was used in less than 2% of the cases the NYPD’s Cold Case Squad cleared.

– “In most state or federal systems, for every one crime solved with DNA, we solve 26 cases with fingerprints,” according to Ed German, a recently retired Chief of Intelligence for the Army Criminal Investigation Command.

– 10 million Americans have had a family member or close friend murdered. 4 million of those people will never see their loved one’s killer locked up. (Data is from the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, Medical University of South Carolina.)

– In New York you’re twice as likely to be murdered if you’re black, and your case is four times as likely to go cold.

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