Scottsdale detectives have steadily improved in solving certain violent crimes since 2000, and have stayed above the state’s case-clearance rates the last two years, according to statistics.
The tried-and-true methods of fingerprinting, bloodtyping and questioning a suspect in the 1970s and ’80s have expanded into specialized searches and DNA testing, said Scottsdale detective Sgt. Donald Bellendier, who supervises the violent-crimes unit.
“Technology was pretty well nil then. The department also used team policing where groups were rotating in and out of assignments. There wasn’t any consistency in investigations,” Bellendier told a class last week at the Scottsdale Citizens Police Academy.
Crediting recent improvements in forensic science, Scottsdale police have cleared all 17 homicides in the city since 2002, according to statistics released by the police department.
In 2001, Scottsdale police cleared one-third of its 10 homicides; in 2000, it solved five of eight homicides, according to statistics.
The three violent crime categories that police cleared the most in 2005 were homicides (100 percent), according to the statistics.
But in 2004, Scottsdale’s case-clearance rates in more violent crimes such as homicides, rape and aggravated assault and robbery well exceeded state clearance rates, according to the FBI statistics of Arizona cities with a population of 10,000 or aggravated assaults (73 percent) and rape (63 percent).
Comparably, those areas were slightly improved from 2004’s case clearance rates, according to police statistics.
But, the clearance rates in 2005 have dropped slightly compared with 2004 in robberies, burglaries and theft, more. For example, as a whole, the state cleared 12 percent of its rapes that year, while Scottsdale cleared 60 percent.
“A case cleared is a case solved,” said Scottsdale detective Sam Bailey. “There may be one person responsible for six arsons, but we still treat it as six cases (solved).”
Over the last decade, strides in technology and investigative techniques have helped police solve more cases, Bailey said. For instance, detectives can use footprint analysis to help put a suspect at the scene of a crime.
Detectives have also gone from analyzing fingerprints from paper cards to advanced computer searches, called the Automatic Fingerprint Identification System.