Dear Representative Demings,
I am writing on behalf of the members of the Fraternal Order of Police to advise you of our support for H.R. 5768, the “Violent Incident Clearance and Technological Investigative Methods (VICTIM) Act.”
In 2020, the United States saw the largest rise in homicides since the start of national record-keeping in 1960. Approximately 21,570 people were murdered in the United States in 2020—the most since 1995—a 29.4% increase over 2019. Additionally, the FBI estimates that 77% of all murders in the United States in 2020 were via firearms, up from 73% in 2019. At the same time that the murder rate rose, the clearance rate for murders fell significantly, from 61.4% in 2019 to 54.4% in 2020. In cities with a population above 250,000, the rate was even more dramatic, falling from 57.6% in 2019 to 47.3% in 2020.
Homicide cases can be very difficult to clear—especially those committed via a firearm—and non-fatal shootings even more so. Closing these types of crimes requires diligence, manpower, and a sustained investigative effort. Given the limited resources of law enforcement agencies, it’s important to provide the significant, dedicated resources that clearing these crimes requires, especially given their oftentimes heinous nature.
Your legislation would establish a grant program administered by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to help State, Tribal, and local law enforcement agencies improve their clearance rates for homicides and non-fatal shootings. Agencies can use these grant funds to train or hire additional detectives, investigators, or other police personnel that can investigate, solve, and respond to homicides and non-fatal shootings. The grants can also be used to improve training for agency personnel to address the needs of victims and family members of homicides and non-fatal shootings.
These important resources would improve law enforcement agencies’ abilities to close homicide cases, which would punish the perpetrators of these crimes, provide justice for the victims and their families, and grant peace of mind for communities and the dedicated law enforcement officers that serve them.
On behalf of the more than 364,000 members of the Fraternal Order of Police, I am proud to offer our support for this legislation. If I can be of any further assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me or Executive Director Jim Pasco in our Washington office.