National Archive of Criminal Justice Data

This dataset is maintained and distributed by the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data (NACJD), the criminal justice archive within ICPSR. NACJD is primarily sponsored by three agencies within the U.S. Department of Justice: the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the National Institute of Justice, and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention.

Production and Consumption of Research in Police Agencies in the United States, 1989-1990 (ICPSR 6315)

Principal Investigator(s):

Summary:

The purpose of this study was to describe the dynamics of police research, how the role and practice of research differ among police agencies, and why this appears to happen. This study also attempts to answer, on a national scale, four fundamental questions: (1) What is police research? (2) Who does it? (3) Why is it done? and (4) What impact does it have? In addition to describing the overall contours of the conduct of research in United States police agencies, this study also sought to explore the organizational dynamics that might contribute to understanding the different roles research plays in various types of police organizations. Questionnaires were mailed in 1990 to 777 sheriff, municipal, county, and state police agencies selected for this study, resulting in 491 surveys for analysis. Respondents were asked to identify the extent to which they were involved in each of 26 distinct topic areas within the past year, to specify the five activities that consumed most of their time during the previous year, and to describe briefly any projects currently being undertaken that might be of interest to other police agencies. A second approach sought to describe police research not in terms of the topics studied but in terms of the methods police used to study those topics. A third section of the questionnaire called for respondents to react to a series of statements characterizing the nature of research as practiced in their agencies. A section asking respondents to describe the characteristics of those responsible for research in their agency followed, covering topics such as to whom the research staff reported. Respondent agencies were also asked to evaluate the degree to which various factors played a role in initiating research in their agencies. Finally, questions about the impact of research on the police agency were posed.

Access Notes

  • These data are freely available.

Dataset(s)

Data File - Download All Files (1.3 MB)
Documentation:
Data:

Study Description

Citation

Klockars, Carl B., and William E. Harver. PRODUCTION AND CONSUMPTION OF RESEARCH IN POLICE AGENCIES IN THE UNITED STATES, 1989-1990. ICPSR version. Newark, DE: University of Delaware, Dept. of Sociology and Criminal Justice [producer], 1993. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor], 1996. http://doi.org/10.3886/ICPSR06315.v1

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Funding

This study was funded by:

  • United States Department of Justice. Office of Justice Programs. National Institute of Justice (90-IJ-CX-0031)

Scope of Study

Subject Terms:   law enforcement agencies, police departments, research

Geographic Coverage:   United States

Time Period:  

  • 1989--1990

Unit of Observation:   Police agencies.

Universe:   All police agencies in the United States.

Data Types:   survey data

Methodology

Study Purpose:   The purpose of this study was to describe the dynamics of police research, how the role and practice of research differ among police agencies, and why this appears to happen. This study also attempts to answer, on a national scale, four fundamental questions: (1) What is police research? (2) Who does it? (3) Why is it done? and (4) What impact does it have? In addition to describing the overall contours of the conduct of research in U.S. police agencies, this study also sought to explore the organizational dynamics that might contribute to understanding the different roles research plays in various types of police organizations.

Study Design:   In this study, the researchers approached the question of "What is police research?" from three different but complementary directions. One part of the survey consisted of a series of questions asking respondents to identify the topics on which they worked during the past year. In another approach, a series of questions addressed methods and resources employed in the course of doing research. The third technique was to ask respondents to indicate their agreement or disagreement with a series of statements that characterized the nature of research as it was practiced in their agencies. In formulating the questions, a list of topic areas was prepared from the researchers' own experience in planning and research that was supplemented with results from early pretesting on a small number of agencies not in the national sample. Surveys were mailed during the last two weeks in August 1990 to each of the 777 police agencies selected, resulting in 491 surveys for analysis. In October 1990, all police agencies that had not returned a questionnaire were sent a follow-up letter requesting return of the survey. The survey instrument was offered to agencies in two formats: one that phrased questions in terms of "the research and planning unit," and another that phrased questions in terms of "those responsible for research and planning." Agencies were instructed to choose the first format if they had a formal research and planning unit, the second if they did not.

Sample:   The national survey was based on a 50-percent sample of all United States police agencies employing more than 50 sworn officers, as well as a selected sample of 91 small municipal police agencies, each of which employed between 35 and 49 sworn officers. This produced a total initial sample of 777 police agencies, of which 491 (63 percent) returned survey questionnaires.

Data Source:

self-enumerated questionnaires

Description of Variables:   Respondents were first asked to identify the extent to which they were involved in each of 26 distinct topic areas within the past year and next to describe their research topics by listing the five activities that consumed most of their time during the year. Another question asked respondents to describe briefly any projects currently being undertaken that might be of interest to other police agencies. A second approach sought to describe police research not in terms of the agenda of topics studied but in terms of the methods police used to study those topics. Five questions queried respondents on various aspects of the methods of police research. A third section called for respondents to react to a series of ten statements characterizing the nature of research as practiced in their agencies. Another section probed for information about the characteristics of those responsible for research in their agency, such as whether the research staff reported to the agency head and, if not, to whom they reported. To determine what initiates police research in the police agencies surveyed, respondents were asked to evaluate on a 4-point scale the degree to which 14 factors played a role in initiating research in their agencies. In assessing the impact of research on police agencies, the researchers relied on six questions. The mix and phrasing of these questions were designed to control and minimize the phenomenon of inflating the actual impact of research.

Response Rates:   This study produced a total initial sample of 777 police agencies, of which 491 (63 percent) returned survey questionnaires.

Presence of Common Scales:   Several Likert-type scales were used.

Extent of Processing:  ICPSR data undergo a confidentiality review and are altered when necessary to limit the risk of disclosure. ICPSR also routinely creates ready-to-go data files along with setups in the major statistical software formats as well as standard codebooks to accompany the data. In addition to these procedures, ICPSR performed the following processing steps for this data collection:

  • Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.

Version(s)

Original ICPSR Release:  

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