Within the realm of homicide investigations standard practices dictate that efforts be made to solve cases within a 72 hour period. The reasons behind this timeline is simple, through experience law enforcement officials know that if the case is not solved within this time period it is more than likely that important leads and useful eye witness testimony will dry up and the case will become cold.
Additionally, within this timeline it is conceivable to devote the maximum resources and expertise of a law enforcement agency to one case. Cases with regards to gang involvement, immigration, destitute individuals, travellers or anonymous entities are the primary ones which remain unsolved. If there is a jurisdiction which finds itself the victim of a great number of unsolved cases or with difficulties faced in collecting evidence during this time period the case can be shelved for the time being. Cold case squads can then take over the case when the lead investigators in charge of them retire, transfer to another department or leave the case. These squads review the evidence presented before them and use it to rekindle new leads and re-interview witnesses in an effort to solve their cases (Turner and Kosa). This paper will give an overview of cold case investigations in law enforcement agencies today.
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