AG Paxton Announces Cold Case Internships

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton | Image by Mark Felix for The Texas Tribune

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office has partnered with Texas State University to create a criminal justice internship program for students in an attempt to lower the number of outstanding cold cases statewide.

Thanks to the “Cold Case Team” initiative, Texas State criminology students will get hands-on experience working alongside members of the attorney general’s Cold Case and Missing Persons Unit (CCMPU). Four students will be selected for each year-long program run, allowing them to delve into unsolved homicide and missing persons cases in teams of two to identify potential new leads. Seasoned criminal investigators and prosecutors will supervise the students’ work.

Not only will the students learn to work with official police records, digital forensic data, autopsy and lab reports, witness statements, and more, but they will also boost CCMPU’s investigative reach.

“Since starting [CCMPU] in 2021, I have expanded our resources and expertise to bring justice to heartbroken families who lost their loved ones in cases that went cold,” Paxton explained in a news release announcing the program.

In 2020, there were roughly 20,072 unsolved homicides in Texas and over 270,000 in the United States, per the release from Paxton’s office. The nationwide total reportedly grows by approximately 6,000 homicides each year.

The Dallas Police Department has launched its own #ColdCaseTuesday initiative on social media in hopes of unearthing new leads in outstanding cases handled by its cold case squad. For instance, the department recently brought attention to a cold case involving a 19-year-old’s murder in Dallas in 1998. As covered by The Dallas Express, Ron Carr was shot inside his car, and two male suspects were seen fleeing the scene.

The murder rate in Dallas swelled by 15% between 2022 and 2023, with the overwhelming majority of murder victims being black and Hispanic males, per data from the City’s crime analytics dashboard.

DPD has just around 3,000 officers, which is considerably lower than the force of approximately 4,000 recommended by a City analysis of policing needs by population. This longstanding deficit of officers is likely to persist, with the Dallas City Council allocating a budget of just $654 million to DPD this fiscal year. This is significantly lower spending on police than the amounts seen in other high-crime jurisdictions, such as Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.

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