Opportunities to Increase Detective Productivity in Criminal Investigations

Eric Fritsch
Professor of Criminal Justice, University of North Texas

Key Findings

  • Detectives spend about 771 hours per case.
  • Different crime units spend different amounts of time on cases.
  • More than one-third of their time is taken up by non-case-related work including administrative/clerical work or 84 eight-hour shifts.
  • Richardson Police Department (RPD) spent 15% of time on training.
  • Only one‐third of police agencies that employ civilians in some capacity assign them to investigative support roles.
  • Civilian investigative support employees represent only 3% of the total number of personnel employed by police agencies.


In the article, “Detective Workload and Opportunities for Increased Productivity in Criminal Investigations,” Fritsch and his coauthors re-examine modern detective work. The researchers saw a need for detectives to increase their productivity and more quickly adjust to shifts in crime. Both these issues could be solved with non-traditional detective roles, activities that can include building community rapport or enhancing roles for patrol officers. By using data from Richardson Police Department (RPD) in Texas, Fritsch and his team found that detectives spend about 771 hours per case with contacting individuals and administrative tasks each accounting for 17% of time and searching computer databases at about 12%. They also found time spent per case is not similar across units in the same department. Fritsch suggests that more time be spent on training officers and less on administrative work. Fritsch proposed employing more civilians and utilizing patrol officers to take on more supportive roles.

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