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The time for police legwork is before crime erupts, not after it

RE “EFFORTS intensify to solve killings: City police may add to squads’’ (Page A1, Dec. 30): It’s encouraging to see that Commissioner Edward F. Davis is addressing diminishing clearance rates on homicides. There are a couple of things worth noting: First, this is a national phenomenon and would likely come as no surprise to the four Supreme Court justices who dissented in Miranda v. Arizona in 1966. While Miranda protects the rights of the accused, it makes solving crime, especially murder, more challenging.

Second, when I became a police officer in the New York City Police Department (two weeks after the Miranda ruling), I had great mentoring: “Remember, kid, you’re only as good as your information; make friends out there, say hello to people.’’ Today they call it community policing. But the time to “make friends’’ isn’t during or after the crisis. Police leaders seem not to have grasped this relatively simple fact. I hope that Davis, one of the nation’s best, will not just address the problem by assigning more detectives to homicides. My experience with detectives over close to a half century is consistent: They will rise to a challenge, which means getting them out talking to people before the shooting starts.

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