Have you ever wondered how the Philadelphia Police Department solves a crime?

A lot happens in the time between when someone commits a crime and when the suspect gets put in custody. This process is called “clearing a case.” 

First things first, the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) calculates case clearance rates by dividing the number of crimes investigated by the number of crimes that are “cleared.” In other words a case is “cleared” only when criminal charges against a suspect are filed.

How police clear a case

Step 1

A crime is reported to the police and responding uniformed officers arrive on scene and respond to immediate needs. During this time they also begin a preliminary investigation, and request assistance from a detective unit if necessary.

Step 2

Police investigate after the responding officers take an initial report. The case is then sent to the appropriate detective division or unit for further investigation.

Step 3

Interviews are conducted where detectives identify and interview all relevant people, which includes police, witnesses, and potential suspects.

Step 4

Evidence is collected from the scene and processed. This includes ballistics, latent fingerprints, video, witness statements, and more. Forensic evidence is then sent for processing to PPD Forensics or outside agencies.

Step 5

Suspect(s) are developed based on all the evidence gathered.

Step 6

Evidence and suspect information is presented to the District Attorney’s Office (DAO) for charging, requesting that an arrest warrant is issued for the suspects(s).

Step 7

DAO or another charging body (such as State or Federal authorities) approves or disapproves charges if they agree with the police findings. If they approve, then an arrest warrant is issued. If they disapprove, the charging body can request additional evidence before charging can take place. 

Step 8

An arrest warrant is issued and the police attempt to take the suspect into custody. Public assistance in locating a fugitive may be requested.

Step 9

The suspect is arrested either by PPD or other law enforcement agencies. Suspects can also turn themselves in.

Step 10

The case is “cleared” only after suspect(s) is in custody.

How you can help: submit a tip

As you can see, there are many steps involved in the case clearing process. So how can you help? Submit a tip.  

Anyone with information about a crime can report it anonymously by calling or texting 215-686-TIPS (8477). We all need to work together to prevent the senseless violence that is tearing our communities apart, and submitting a tip can give police the information they need to clear a case—and ultimately make our communities safer.

Remember, there is a standing cash reward of up to $20,000 for essential information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person or persons for any homicide that has occurred in the City of Philadelphia.

As we mentioned in Step 8, police may also need the public’s help when trying to locate a suspect. You can follow the Philadelphia Police Department on Twitter to learn about certain crimes and suspects that PPD is looking for more information about.

If you would like to submit an anonymous tip to the police, you can do it via phone, email, or using an online form. Please include as much information as possible, such as the physical address and names of the people involved. Include your contact information if you would like someone to follow up with you directly.

It takes all of us working together to make our city safer. If you have any information about a crime, submit a tip today.