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EVAWI > Resources > Best Practices > Clearance Methods
OnLine Training Institute Module

Detailed information on the topic of clearance methods in sexual assault cases is available in the OnLine Training Institute module of the same name. In this training module, we provide information for officers, investigators, and supervisors who make decisions regarding how to clear or otherwise close sexual assault cases. These determinations can be extremely difficult, yet many law enforcement personnel are provided little or no guidance in how to make them appropriately. Therefore, in this module we walk through the various ways in which a sexual assault case can be cleared or otherwise closed, and how some are not really closed at all but simply suspended or inactivated. Interestingly, these questions go to the heart of some of the most difficult aspects of sexual assault investigation, particularly in those cases where the victim and the suspect know each other. This module may therefore be the most challenging one in this entire training curriculum.

Clearance Methods

This 7-part series of training bulletins was developed by EVAWI to explain the various methods that law enforcement agencies use for clearing crime reports. In the first installment, we outline the definition and criteria for clearance by arrest. In subsequent bulletins, we explore the other two primary methods: exceptional clearance and unfounding. Finally, we discuss some of the problems and challenges with the way clearance methods are used by various law enforcement agencies across the country.

Police Clearance Methods: How Are They Currently Defined – and How Should They Be Used?

This article in Sexual Assault Report provides definitions of the various clearance categories from the UCR Handbook, the official FBI document that offers guidance to law enforcement agencies on how to classify and score (e.g., clear) crimes reported to the UCR. Next, authors Sgt. (Ret.) Joanne Archambault and Dr. Kim Lonsway review the research conducted by Cassia Spohn and Katharine Tellis (2011) on the topic of police clearance procedures. The authors have highlighted some issues raised by this research and draw out a few implications that bridge research and practice as it pertains to the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Program.

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