During the 47th legislative session, Senate Bill 1182 was passed creating the Cold Case Task Force. Its responsibilities were to:
- Review procedures used by law enforcement agencies in investigating and preserving cold case homicides.
- Review procedures used by law enforcement agencies in investigating recent homicides.
- Receive comment from members of victim’s families and members of the public.
Due to the complexities of the issues presented, it was decided by the Cold Case Task Force members1 that this report should focus upon the current practices of Arizona’s law enforcement community regarding cold case homicides. By doing so, a baseline would be established that would allow for measured review as law enforcement progresses with the unique challenges that “cold case” homicides present.
The Cold Case Task Force created several working groups to facilitate their review. They were:
- Survey of Law Enforcement Agencies.
- Collection and Preservation of Evidence.
- Victim Impact.
- Best Practices.
Many of the recommendations2 of this Task Force may involve potential legislative solutions. It is recommended that the Arizona Criminal Justice Commission3 be asked to continue with the Cold Case Task Force efforts and bring together members from the criminal justice community to facilitate the drafting of such legislation and identifying “promising practices”. By doing this, criminal justice professionals can take into account the unique challenges of cold case homicide investigations and the variability in size and resources of the different Arizona law enforcement agencies.
Research conducted for the Cold Case Task Force revealed that jurisdictions across Arizona use a variety of cold case homicide definitions. The Cold Case Task Force believes that it is important for all Arizona law enforcement agencies to use the same definition of a cold case homicide and recommend the following:
A cold case homicide is a homicide that remains unsolved for at least one year after being reported to law enforcement and has no viable and unexplored investigatory leads.