Homicide Trends: What you need to know and what you can do about it

What you need to know

Each fall, the FBI aggregates and distributes annual crime data from law enforcement agencies across the country. It recently released its year-end report for 2020. The biggest trend? Homicide increased by nearly 30% over the previous year.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • Violent crime, particularly homicide, increased in 2020 – violent crime rate rose by 4.6%, and the homicide rate rose by 28.9%, a historic one-year increase
  • A greater share of homicides involved firearms in 2020 – It reached a peak of 77% in 2020 compared to 73% in 2019.
  • The homicide clearance rate declined significantly in 2020 – The rate was 82% in 1976, 55% in 2019 and 50% in 2020.
  • The circumstances of homicides have grown increasingly unclear – When fewer cases are solved, authorities know less about them.

While the absolute number of homicides is known with confidence, the relationships between victims and offenders and the motives behind the killings have become less clear over time. The proof is in the stats. In 2020, 52% of homicide relationships were classified as “unknown,” up from 44% in 2010.

Why is this? Whilst there could be many considerations, a major concern would be the amount of data now in existence, both online and in multiple siloed systems. Finding that golden nugget of information, that could be the evidence you need to spot a connection, secure a conviction, and close a case, has become increasingly difficult to find.

What you can do about it

A solution to this big data challenge would be to house a federated search tool within your agency.

Federated search is about asking one question to several different systems simultaneously. Within a law enforcement agency, this could mean searching your internal databases, such as records management systems, a network drive and a cloud environment, plus, external sources such as social media, consented data and company information, all at once.

Federated search tools save time and any results that might be related to each other can be displayed in the same system. If you are looking for correlations, then you can look across the data with a single view.

What’s more, you can be confident that you have explored all available data, reducing the risk that you miss something from somewhere that is hard to access.

Being confident that you have searched for and captured all relevant information to your case puts you in a much better position to identify victims, offenders and motives behind a homicide, almost immediately.

Chorus Search explained

Chorus Search is law enforcement’s answer to Google. A federated search tool, Chorus connects to all social media, internal data sets and other consented databases to automatically query data and uncover links between people, objects, locations and events.

Most investigations start with a name, address, or telephone number that you wish to find out more about. You simply put this into Chorus Search and a semantic type will be automatically assigned depending on the search term. Eg: a first and last name would be assigned to a ‘person search’. However, semantic types can be changed manually if required.

Chorus Search will then connect to all social media, internal data sets and other consented databases and bring back immediate results. Select those results that are relevant to your case. You can then expand your data sets and visualize connections to reveal patterns and answer key questions.

If your agency is using other systems, such as i2 Analyst’s Notebook, Chorus Search works seamlessly with i2 to enrich your data even further.

Want to trial Chorus Search?

No problem. We think it’s important that you try the software out for yourself to really see the benefits that it can add to your investigations. We can set you up with an initial demo and free 60 day, no obligation, trial. We continually work in partnership law enforcement agencies to solve their biggest investigative challenges. Our goal is the same as yours; to solve crime and protect the public.


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