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NCJ Number: 77934 Add to Shopping cart Find in a Library
Title: Chicago Police Put the Burn on Arson
Journal: Police Product News  Volume:5  Issue:7  Dated:(July 1981)  Pages:48-53,72
Author(s): W Oleksy
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 7
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: The record and procedures of the Chicago Police Department in arson investigations are discussed.
Abstract: Until just a few years ago, Chicago had one of the Nation's highest arson rates and the lowest conviction rates for arsonists. Since transferring arson investigations from the fire department to the police department, the arson rate had decreased dramatically and arson convictions have significantly increased. The Bomb and Arson Unit has sole responsibility for the investigation of fires in the city. The unit consists of a commander, two lieutenants, six sergeants, ten bomb technicians, and fifty investigators. Investigators are required to complete a 70-hour course, with arson investigation experts from throughout the country conducting courses in chemistry and other arson-related subjects. Special attention is given to determining the cause and origin of fires and public and private record research methods. Beat officers are required to attend every reported fire. If the cause of the fire is reported on the beat officer's report to be unknown, the Bomb and Arson Unit investigates. An effort is made to try all arson cases in Federal court, because the defendant cannot waive a jury trial as in State courts. Juries are believed to be much tougher on arsonists than judges are. The record of the unit for 1980, as of October, showed that of 1,855 arson cases investigated, 32.3 percent were solved. Last year, 504 adults and juveniles were arrested for arson in the city. Out of these, 146 adults were charged, 75 were convicted, 3 were mentally unfit to stand trial, and 3 were committed to mental institutions. In Chicago, arson is no longer considered a low-risk crime.
Index Term(s): Arson investigations; Illinois; Police field services units; Specialized police operations
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