Expanding the Role of Patrol in Criminal Investigations…

Dennis Kenney, Michael D. White, and Marc Ruffinengo (2010). “Expanding the Role of Patrol in Criminal Investigations: Houston’s Investigative First Responder Project.” Police Quarterly, 13(2): 136-160.

Research in the late 1970s discovered two on-going problems with criminal investigations. The first problem involved the inefficiency in the work done by detectives, and the second centered on the misunderstood role of patrol officers in those investigations. In recognition of these ongoing problems, the Houston police department (HPD) sought to improve its investigative capacity and effectiveness through the Investigative First Responder (IFR) project, a pilot program initiated in early 2007 that specially trained and reassigned 45 patrol officers to investigative status so that they could assume responsibility for Part 1 crimes. This article examined the impact of the IFR project through pre—post comparisons of calls for service, response times, and quality and content of investigative reports, as well as surveys of both IFR and non-IFR officers on their perceptions of the program. Findings suggested that the program increased the HPD’s investigative capacity and effectiveness without negatively affecting workload among the remaining patrol staff, though inconsistent survey responses raised questions about patrol officers’ acceptance of the project. The implications of the findings for police policy and practice with regard to criminal investigation were also taken into consideration, for further discussion in this article.