Interpreting clearance rate data
Police are responsible for solving crime, and this requires a high degree of police-community collaboration—through witness participation in investigations and community members reporting crimes and other information, for example. Law enforcement agencies consider crimes solved when they are “cleared” by arrests. For this reason, clearance rates (that is, the ratio of arrests to known offenses) can serve as an indicator of not only police effectiveness but also of police-community collaboration. (See Shima Baughman, “How Effective Are Police? The Problem of Clearance Rates and Criminal Accountability,” Alabama Law Review 72, no. 1 (2020), 47-130.)
Each year, as part of its Uniform Crime Report (UCR) program, the FBI collects voluntarily reported clearance rate data from the country’s 18,000+ police agencies. This data covers all Part I (violent and property) offenses, except for arson.
On this page, users can explore how clearance rates vary by offense type, time, and place. This information can shed light on the efficacy of U.S. policing practices and the degree of police-community collaboration across the country.
For more information about how to interpret UCR data see the FAQ.