General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

What's the cost-benefit analysis to having police and the FBI try and solve Cold Cases? Is this a good use of scarce police resource?

Asked by elbanditoroso (22764points) November 12th, 2012

Just today I was reading about a cold-case investigation for someone who was killed 41 years ago. Sometimes you read of police forces that continue investigations for that occurred 25, 35, even 50 years ago.

The victims are still dead – and in many cases so is the perpetrator. If they find the bad guy at all.

On one level, solving the cold case gives some sort of closure (what is that, anyway?) to the family, maybe.

But at what cost? Could the police be using their resources more wisely? Yes, some cases make the headlines when they are solved. But I’ll be that for every cold-case success there are a dozen failures.

Does this effort make economic sense?

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11 Answers

bolwerk's avatar

Yes. What else should police be doing? Pestering minorities and poor people?

Coloma's avatar

Well…it’s kinda like that old story about the man tossing beached sardines back into the ocean and another telling him it was an exercise in futility and didn’t matter.
The man replied that it mattered to that ONE sardine.
That’s my take, revenue aside, the one case solved matters greatly to the families involved and in bringing sought after justice.
I don’t think there should be a statute of limitation on murder, at all, not ever.

A lot of cold cases turned up eventually finding infamous murderers like all the old Nazi war criminals we’ve wrangled up decades later and Ted Bundy, The Green River killer, etc.
Many families did get “closure” after decades and decades and I don’t think you can out a price tag on that.

Soubresaut's avatar

I don’t know the cost-benefit analysis, much less the costs of any of the factors, but—I imagine that even if all involved in the cold case are indeed gone, it would still be good to know how the perpetrator was able to get away with the crime. Sometimes it’s probably a “simple” (for lack of a better word) matter of available technology for the investigation (DNA testing a definite example). But, should that not be the case, or should it not be all of the case, discovering how some crimes slipped through the legal system could help future ones not. Finding the holes. Filling in the missing pieces of history.
Another potential benefit I see is in investigating the reasons behind the crime. Maybe finding the motives of the person, that can be alleviated or curtailed for the future; or finding the cues or cries given by someone unstable, and how future people in similar states can be helped before they do harm to others in their pain/confusion/desperation.

marinelife's avatar

There is no statute of limitations on murder for a reason. Our society says it is a heinous crime that should never be forgotten.

If crimes can be solved using new technologies, why not?

Here’s what The National Institute of Justice says:

“Overview of Using DNA to Solve Cold Cases

Experience has shown that cold case programs can solve a substantial number of violent crime cold cases, including homicides and sexual assaults. Advances in DNA technologies have substantially increased the successful DNA analysis of aged, degraded, limited, or otherwise compromised biological evidence. As a result, crime scene samples once thought to be unsuitable for testing may now yield DNA profiles. Additionally, samples that previously generated inconclusive DNA results may now be successfully analyzed. To this end, the National Institute of Justice seeks to assist law enforcement agencies by developing their knowledge base, affording them opportunities to use forensic laboratories for the DNA analysis of cold case evidence, and aiding in the subsequent investigation to solve cold cases.”

Brian1946's avatar

I think law enforcement resources would be more efficiently used if they deprioritized presumably victimless crimes, such as prostitution, and the consumption, production, and sale of weed.

I think the investigation of some cold cases has lead to the identification, apprehension, and conviction of dormant or relocated serial murderers.

flutherother's avatar

Criminals should never sleep easy, their cases should never be closed. If new evidence or new technology can lead to their conviction then let’s convict them. It’s not a question of money but of justice.

_Whitetigress's avatar

none its about the federals and state seeing a criminal being captured

chyna's avatar

If it was my family member, I would want them caught and punished. Especially if they were continuing their life of crime, it would benefit any future victims.

Coloma's avatar

Get a rope. lol

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bolwerk's avatar

I always figured “investigation” should be separate from “law enforcement.” The problem with having police with arresting powers doing the investigations is they are clearly biased toward other police. Investigation is necessary for successful law enforcement, but it’s not require that the law enforcers be the investigators.

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