Research Proposal Part 2

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Question Description

Write a 700- to 1,050-word Background/Literature Review. Be sure to include the following:

  • A description of what is already known about this area
  • A short discussion of why the background studies are not sufficient
  • A summary of the basic background information on the topic gleaned from your literature review
  • A discussion containing several critical studies that have already been done in this area. Use current references and studies. Note: Material that is five or more years old is considered outdated unless it is the only literature that addresses the topic.
  • An analysis of why these background studies are insufficient. What question(s) do they leave unresolved that you would like to study?
  • A list of these readings in References at the end of this section of the proposal.

Include at least six peer-reviewed references. These references can include the same references from Part I.

Format your paper consistent with APA guidelines.

The Proposal is about the Difference in County Homicide Detectives, and Federal Homicide Detectives.

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HSX38186 4 HSX14410.1177/1088767910381864Reasons et al.Homicide Studies © 2010 SAGE Publications Reprints and permission: http://www. The Ideology of Homicide Detectives: A Cross-National Study Homicide Studies 14(4) 436­–452 © 2010 SAGE Publications Reprints and permission: http://www. DOI: 10.1177/1088767910381864 Charles E. Reasons1, Teresa Francis1, and David Kim2 Abstract Ideologies help guide our behavior and thought processes and have been largely neglected when studying crime and criminal justice professionals. Intensive interviews were conducted with homicide detectives in Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, British Columbia to provide a view of their working beliefs and opinions concerning a number of issues. The areas questioned included (a) working environment, (b) causes of homicide, (c) television portrayal of homicide work, and (d) the death penalty. Within each area several questions were asked. Although homicide detectives in both cities and countries gave similar responses to many questions, they differed significantly in terms of the role of guns, particularly handguns, in homicide rates, the death penalty, and their relationship to the prosecutor/crown. Therefore, although their constellation of beliefs (ideologies) surrounding the above noted topics were in many ways similar, there were distinct differences. The areas of difference can be understood within the larger legal and cultural context. Keywords comparative homicide, ideology, homicide detectives, causes of homicide, police work An ideology is an organized collection of ideas. All societies have an ideology that is the basis of “common sense” or “public opinion.” It often appears neutral. A “natural” given set of assumptions not often challenged. For example, the notions that the United 1 Central Washington University, Ellensburg Washington State University, Pullman 2 Corresponding Author: Charles E. Reasons, Department of Law and Justice, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA 98926-7580 Reasons et al. 437 States is the best country in the world; democracy as we practice it is the best form of government; government control of the economy is bad; what ever is good for the private sector is good for all. Although we are all socialized with an ideology, those who conduct the study of crime often eschew the term ideology and ignore its role in the study of crime. The criminologist is often viewed as insulated from ideology because of his or her methodological strictures. In his classic work Ideology and Crime, Sir Leon Radzinowicz (1966) details how explanations of crime have changed with changes in society over many centuries. Although most criminology and criminal justice texts outline the changes in ways of explaining crime from demological to classical neoclassical, positivist and critical explanations, the role of ideology is largely ignored. Explanations of crime are presented as a linear, cumulative progression in our understanding of crime. If one looks at current textbooks, rarely is there a notation for ideology in the index. This omission is due in part to the largely “normal science” of criminology and its emersion in positivism and scientism. A cursory review of major criminology and criminal justice journals provides evidence for this dominance of scientism and positivism. In the “Professional Ideology of Social Pathologists,” sociologist C.W. Mills (1943) observed that social scientists and academics share collective ideas and “ways of thinking” (ideologies) in the study of crime and deviance related to their backgrounds and biases. More recently Kelleher (2001) provides an update to Mills’ argument by arguing that contemporary students of social problems have a liberal bias in their work. In the “Sociology of Nuts, Sluts, and Perverts,” Liazos (1972) discusses this in terms of the focus of criminological study. In the Social Reality of Crime, Quinney (1970) provided a break with the positivist tradition in emphasizing how both law and crime are socially created and pursued based on factors of race, class, and other biases. Although we all have ideologies, lay people and social scientists, most research by criminologists on ideologies and beliefs has been on the offenders and/or employees of the criminal justice system. In a significant, but now largely ignored, article “Ideology and Criminal Justice Policy,” Walter B. Miller (1973) provides an excellent starting point for addressing the role ideology plays in the criminal justice system. He identifies ideological positions on the left and right and summarizes crusading issues and general assumptions. These are presented generally, and then he discusses four professional groups. (a) Academic Criminologists (b) Judiciary and Courts (c) the Police, and (d) Corrections in terms of the left/right positions. He concludes, If, as it is here contended, many of those involved in the tasks of planning and executing the major policies and procedures of our criminal justice system are subject to the influence of pervasive ideological assumptions which are largely implicit and unexamined, the question than arises What are the consequences of this phenomenon? (Miller, 1973, p. 150) 438 Homicide Studies 14(4) Police Ideology In discussing the ideology of the police, Miller (1973) notes that most have “working class backgrounds” and most fit into the “right” classification ideologically although there are variations in region of the country, size of department, age, and rank differences. This is largely confirmed in the classic research on the “working personality” of the police decades ago. However, Walker and Katz observe in their more recent text Police in America (2008), the attitudes and culture of police are more complex today given the dramatic changes in the rank and file over recent decades (Women, African Americans, Hispanics, gay and lesbian officers, higher education level). Nonetheless, there are “ways of thinking” among police today. Little research has been conducted on detectives, generally, and less on homicide detectives. Walker and Katz (2008) point out that detective work is surrounded by myths largely because of movies and television police shows. Some of these myths are that detective work is exciting, glamorous, and dangerous; detectives possess exceptional courage and skills and solve all crime. Although these myths are empirically unsubstantiated, they produce harmful consequences, such as unrealistic expectations from victims and the public, and thus frustration and dissatisfaction. The most extensive and comprehensive research on detective work was completed by Canadian criminologist Richard Erickson (1981), who wrote a book entitled Making Crime: A Study of Detective Work. He studied detectives in Toronto, Ontario. Through interviews, observations, and related analysis, Erickson provides a rich elaboration of detective work in the context of organization, occupational environment, modus operandi, and ideology. In the ranking of detective work, homicide detective work traditionally occupies the highest status, followed by robbery and sexual assault detectives. This is because of the fact that more serious crimes carry more social and moral significance. Therefore, more resources are given to these types of crimes. As noted in the early book Detective Work: A Study of Criminal Investigation (Sanders, 1977), homicide units generally have the smallest workload and the highest clearance rate. At the other end of the detective spectrum, property crime units (burglary and larceny) have the highest workloads and lowest clearance rates. Method During the 2005-2006 academic year, the researcher visited both the Seattle and Vancouver Police Departments numerous times, meeting with the respective homicide units. Both the Seattle and Vancouver homicide units have 18 officers. The Seattle homicide unit consisted of three squads of six officers. Each squad has a Sgt. and five detectives. The five detectives consist of two pairs who work together plus a 5th wheel who investigates felony assaults and is periodically called to help with a homicide. The Vancouver Homicide Squad is composed of two teams of Reasons et al. 439 eight detectives each, with a Sgt. leading each team. As in Seattle, the officers work in two person units. In the Summer of 2005, prior to the extensive field work, a homicide interview schedule was constructed based on previous research and the current researcher’s interests. It included demographic information, opinions regarding homicide work, views of the factors related to homicide, and opinions on the death penalty, among other issues. From September through December 2005, interviews were conducted with detectives in both Homicide Units. In Seattle, 16 of the 18 homicide officers were interviewed, while in Vancouver, 14 were interviewed, for a total of 30 interviews of homicide officers. The interviews were conducted individually with each detective in a separate room in the homicide unit. Each interview took approximately 1.5 hr although they varied from 1 to 2 hr. The officers were assured anonymity and that identifying information would be removed before data were distributed to others. On completion of the 30 interviews, a coding form was devised to provide more uniform data. The interviews were coded and provided the following results. Results Detective Characteristics The first general category of responses concerned the officer’s experience and characteristics. All detectives, except one in the Seattle unit, have at least 11 or more years of police experience. In terms of time in the homicide unit, it is evident from Table 1 that most detectives in both departments have 3 years or less experience, while the Seattle homicide unit has a much larger number with 9 or more years. In terms of formal education, Seattle homicide detectives are much more likely to have a college/university degree (75%) than Vancouver detectives (46%). Regarding their prior police experience, homicide detectives disproportionately have been detectives in robbery or sex crime units prior to homicide. Working Environment The next set of questions dealt with aspects of the job of the homicide detectives. When asked why they applied to be homicide detectives, Table 2 shows that they realized it was the top of the heap in terms of detective investigation work. Seattle detectives also emphasized that it was interesting and challenging, while Vancouver detectives stressed they always wanted to go into it and there are more resources. Table 3 provides their opinions on the best aspects of being a homicide detective. In terms of the best aspects of the job, using one’s brain, and the challenge and excitement, were noted by half in both departments’ homicide units. Working through the entire case and having the best resources and personnel were mentioned by at least a 40% average for both departments, while locking up bad guys was mentioned by about 440 Homicide Studies 14(4) Table 1. Detective Characteristics Years in the department 0-10 Years 11+ Years Years in homicide 0-3 Years 4-8 Years 9+ Years Education High School Some College/university Complete College/university Previous positions Patrol Robbery Sex crimes Strike force Seattle Vancouver Combined 1-6% 15-94% 0-0% 14-100% 1-3% 29-97% 7-44% 4-25% 5-31% 7-50% 6-43% 1-7% 14-47% 10-33% 6-20% 0-0% 4-25% 12-75% 3-23% 5-31% 6-46% 3-10% 9-30% 18-62% 16-100% 5-31% 3-19% 0-0% 14-100% 6-43% 7-50% 6-11% 30-100% 11-37% 10-33% 6-20% Vancouver Combined Table 2. Why Go Into Homicide?a Seattle Top of heap/peak of investigation Interesting/challenge Always wanted to More resources Other 8-50% 9-56% 4-25% 1-6% 7-44% 6-43% 3-21% 7-50% 4-29% 2-14% 14-47% 12-40% 11-37% 5-17% 9-30% a. Many respondents gave more than one answer. one fourth of detectives. There appears to be more satisfaction in the Seattle unit with resources and overtime pay, compared to the Vancouver unit. Regarding the worst aspects of the job, the Seattle unit noted the hours/pagers going off in the middle of the night as the worst thing, while the Vancouver unit’s most frequent complaint is case failures due to “technicalities.” According to Table 4, another noticeable difference is Seattle detectives were more likely to cite child victims as a worst aspect of work, while Vancouver detectives noted strong personalities/egos. When asked what are the most important skills for a homicide detective, both units listed people skills as the top one, as shown in Table 5. Being organized and interviewing skills were next although these were noted more frequently by Seattle detectives. The next question dealt with the degree of dangerousness of being a homicide 441 Reasons et al. Table 3. Best Part of Working Homicidea Seattle Use Brain/exciting/challenging Work through entire case Best people and resources Jail bad guys Freedom/leadership Overtime pay Other 9-56% 6-38% 7-44% 4-25% 3-19% 3-19% 3-19% Vancouver 7-50% 8-57% 5-36% 3-21% 3-21% 0-0% 4-29% Combined 16-53% 14-47% 12-40% 7-23% 6-20% 3-10% 7-23% a. Many respondents gave more than one answer. Table 4. Worst Part of Working Homicide Seattle Hours/pagers Case fails because of “technicalities” Child victims Strong personalities/ego No lab Other 9-56% 4-25% 4-25% 0-0% 0-0% 4-25% Vancouver 3-21% 5-36% 1-7% 3-21% 1-7% 7-50% Combined 12-40% 9-30% 5-17% 3-10% 1-3% 11-37% Table 5. Most Important Skills as a Homicide Detectivea Seattle People skills Organized Interviewing skills Detail skills Patience Writing skills Tenacity Flexibility Other 8-50% 5-31% 6-38% 3-19% 2-13% 1-6% 0-0% 0-0% 8-50% Vancouver 5-36% 3-21% 2-14% 1-7% 2-14% 2-14% 2-14% 2-14% 6-43% Combined 13-43% 8-27% 8-27% 4-13% 4-13% 3-10% 2-7% 2-7% 14-47% a. Many respondents gave multiple answers. detective. As Table 6 shows, it is the least dangerous job in policing, while patrol is the most dangerous according to homicide detectives. The next question dealing with working conditions concerned the relationship with the prosecutor/crown. This aspect of detective work is often overlooked by researchers, 442 Homicide Studies 14(4) Table 6. Dangerousness Seattle Patrol most dangerous Homicide least dangerous of police work Strike force/ERT most dangerous Other Vancouver Combined 9-64% 10-71% 2-14% 0-0% 22-73% 19-63% 2-7% 4-13% 13-81% 9-56% 0-0% 4-25% Table 7. Relationship With Prosecutor/Crown Seattle Good Not so good Bad Vancouver 13-81% 1-6% 2-13% 6-46% 5-38% 3-15% Combined 19-65% 6-21% 5-14% Table 8. The Clearance Rate for Homicide Has Decreased Over the Last Several Decades, How Would You Explain That?a Seattle Legal rules/courts/technicalities More organized/gang homicides Stranger homicides Other 1-6% 7-44% 5-31% 5-31% Vancouver Combined 12-86% 5-36% 0-0% 5-36% 13-43% 12-40% 5-17% 10-33% a. Respondents gave multiple answers. but is a significant part of their job. As observed in Table 7, the most frequent response in both units was a good relationship; however, such a response was noted by significantly more Seattle homicide detectives. Finally, research has indicated a decline in the clearance rate of homicide over the last several decades in Canada and the United States. Homicide detectives were asked how they would explain this decline. Nearly all of the Vancouver detectives identified legal rules/courts/technicalities, whereas only one Seattle detective provided this explanation in Table 8. The major factors identified by Seattle detectives were more organized/gang homicides and stranger homicide. Vancouver detectives also noted organized/gang homicides but not stranger homicides. Factors/Causes of Homicide The next series of questions dealt with the detectives’ opinions concerning the types of factors that produce homicide. It is basically their views of the “etiology” of homicide. 443 Reasons et al. Table 9. Why Do You Think People Kill Each Other?a Seattle Emotional/anger/situational Premeditated/planned/gang Drugs/money Criminal lifestyle Other 13-81% 7-44% 5-31% 3-19% 6-38% Vancouver Combined 11-79% 7-50% 7-50% 0-0% 5-36% 24-80% 14-47% 12-40% 3-10% 11-37% a. Respondents gave multiple answers. Table 10. Factors Related to Homicide Seattle Inequality/poverty Yes 13-81% No 3-19% Mental illness Yes 12-75% No 4-25% Alcohol Yes 14-88% No 2-12% Illegal drugs 16-100% Yes No 0-0% Gangs Yes 15-93% No 1-7% Race/ethnicity Yes 15-94% No 1-6% Availability of guns—especially handguns Yes 11-69% No 5-31% Vancouver Combined 11-79% 3-21% 24-80% 6-20% 8-57% 6-43% 20-67% 10-33% 12-86% 2-14% 26-87% 4-13% 14-100% 0-0% 30-100% 0-0% 14-100% 0-0% 29-97% 1-3% 13-93% 1-7% 28-93% 2-7% 14-100% 0-0% 25-83% 5-17% The first question was a general one, “Why do you think people kill each other?” As evident from Table 9, the largest response was emotional/anger/situational, followed by premeditated/planned/gang, and drugs/money. Next the homicide detectives were asked if a number of factors were related to homicide. In Table 10, the responses are noted by the respective factors. Over three quarters of detectives (80%). identified inequality/poverty as a factor. 444 Homicide Studies 14(4) Table 11. Why Does the United States Have a Higher Rate and Canada a Lower Rate?a Seattle U.S. has more guns available U.S. more violent historically & now via war etc. More inequality in the United States United States has more racism/racial conflict Canadians more polite, not as uptight/driven Less drug problems in Canada Family Structure Canada has better safety net Other 6-35% 5-31% 4-25% 4-25% 1-6% 1-6% 3-19% 0-0% 5-31% Vancouver 11-79% 4-29% 5-36% 3-21% 3-21% 3-21% 0-0% 2-14% 3-21% Combined 17-57% 9-30% 9-30% 7-23% 4-13% 4-13% 3-10% 2-7% 8-27% a. Respondents gave multiple answers. Most detectives identified mental illness as a factor although it was more frequently noted by Seattle detectives (75%) compared to Vancouver (57%). Detectives from both departments estimated only about 5% of all homicides are related to mental illness. Alcohol is identified by detectives in both departments as a primary factor in homicide. Homicide detectives in both departments are unanimous that illegal drugs are a factor in homicide. However, when explaining how illegal drugs affect homicide, they emphasize the business/gang aspect, not the effects of the illegal drugs on individuals. Detectives in both homicide squads identified gangs as a factor in homicides. However, the proportion of homicides that are gang related has been declining since the mid-1990s in Seattle, while increasing in Vancouver during the same period. Over 90% of detectives identified race/ethnicity as a factor in the gang involvement. The complexion of the issue differs in each city. In Vancouver, where 49% of the population are people of color, Asians are noted, while in Seattle it is African Americans followed by Asians. The last factor addressed in Table 10 is availability of guns—especially handguns. While all Vancouver homicide detectives believe this is a factor, only about two thirds of Seattle detectives view this as a factor. In the next question, detectives were presented with the fact that the homicide rate in Canada is one third that of the United States and were asked to provide their opinion of why there is such a discrepancy. As Table 11 shows, gun availability is the top reason in both homicide units, but many more Canadian homicide detectives (35%) cite this compared to American homicide detectives (28%). Detectives in both departments are similar in noting the more violent nature of the United States and the fact that there is more inequality in the United States than in Canada. Vancouver detectives also id ...
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Difference between County Homicide Detectives and Federal Homicide Detectives.
Institutional affiliation



Homicide detectives play an important role in the law enforcement department of a
county within a state, and at the federal level. As part of murder investigations, homicide
detectives perform various functions which include a collection of information through

interviews, recording of investigations and making arrests all aimed at the ultimate goal: solving
and closing the murder case. After compiling enough material regarding the investigations, the
homicide detectives may testify in court. Homicide detectives at the county level differ in
various ways from those at the federal government level in terms of jurisdiction. The homicide
detectives at the federal level are limited in their jurisdiction because they can only work on
cases that exhibit federal jurisdiction. At the federal level, the Attorney General’s office and the
FBI investigate and prosecute crimes that involve federal officials or qualify to be identified as
federal while most states have district attorneys who prosecute cases. However, there are many
other differences between these two levels of homicide detectives apart from their jurisdictional
Literature review
Reasons, Francis, and Kim (2010) conducted a study on the ...

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