The purpose of this study was to determine the use of data in police departments.
Surveys were used to gather information on data sharing and integration efforts to identify the needs and capacities for data usage in local law enforcement agencies. Initially the Justice Research and Statistics Association convened focus groups of criminal justice professionals in Illinois, Oklahoma, and Pennsylvania to determine what information should be gathered via the surveys for this study. As a result of the focus groups, two surveys were developed, one for police chiefs (Part 1) and one for data analysts (Part 2). In agencies without data analysts, any person filling that role was encouraged to complete the survey. To encourage participation, two mailings were sent. The first round of surveys was mailed in January 2004; a second set of surveys was mailed to nonresponding agencies in March 2004. In order to increase the probability that agencies would return the surveys, letters were included explaining the study. Self-addressed, prestamped envelopes were also included in the mailing and respondents were given the option of completing the survey online at the JRSA Web site. The final total of police chief surveys included in the study is 790, while 752 data analyst responses are included.
The survey sample for this study was selected from the 2000 Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) survey. All police agencies serving populations of at least 25,000 were selected from the LEMAS database for inclusion. As a result, surveys were sent to 1,379 agencies. Police chief surveys were received from 780 agencies and data analyst surveys were received from 742 agencies. For ten agencies, multiple analyst and chief responses were received. These multiples were not duplicates, but rather differing responses from the same agency. The final total of police chief surveys included in the study is 790, while 752 data analyst responses are included. No surveys were received from Vermont, Delaware, and West Virginia; no analyst surveys were received from Maine. Since these states are small, however, only a few agencies fit the criteria for inclusion in the sample.
Mode of Data Collection:
Justice Research and Statistics Association Improving Crime Data Police Chief Survey (Part 1)
Justice Research and Statistics Association Improving Crime Data Data Analyst Survey (Part 2)
LAW ENFORCEMENT MANAGEMENT AND ADMINISTRATIVE STATISTICS (LEMAS): 2000 SAMPLE SURVEY OF LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES (ICPSR 3565)
Description of Variables:
Part 1, Police Chief Survey Data, contains a total of 216 variables and consists of five major sections: data use, incident based data, interjurisdictional data sharing and integration, data for programming and policy strategies, and demographics. Data use questions included which types of criminal and non-criminal justice data respondents find useful in managing their agency, how the respondent uses this data, which types of data would be useful to the respondent if available, how often data and statistics help the performance of the agency in its functions and its affect on the planning of programs or policies in the agency. Incident-based data questions included whether the agency collected and reported incident-based (NIBRS) data and what obstacles the agency experienced with collecting and reporting NIBRS data and if not what is the reason. Interjurisdictional data sharing and integration questions included whether the respondent's department was involved in a multi-agency effort to share/integrate data, what proportion of their agency's overall budget went to support data collection and analysis functions, and how often community leaders asked for data or statistics from their department. Data for programming and policy strategies questions included how the respondent would rate the media's understanding and reporting of data and statistics that they provided. Lastly there was one demographic question asking for the population of the city.
Part 2, Data Analyst Survey Data, contains a total of 449 variables and consists of 6 major sections: data use, agency data structure, data for programming and policy strategies, interjurisdictional data sharing and integration, incident based data, and demographics. Data use questions included which types of criminal and non-criminal justice data are used in the agency, how the agency uses this data, which types of data would be useful to the agency if available, how often data and statistics help the performance of the agency in its functions and its affect on the planning of programs or policies in the agency. Agency data structure questions included whether the agency has a crime analysis unit, number of analysts in the unit, average educational level of analysts, whether analysts receive special training, how crime analysis information is disseminated within the agency, whether the unit seeks assistance in data analysis from outside agencies, concerns analysts have about assistance from external sources, how up-to-date the technology used for data collection and reporting is, and how often the agency updates the technology. Data for programming and policy strategies questions included how often the data and statistical indicators were used in the agency, how often the agency provided data to policymakers for developing programs and policies, whether the agency had representation on a criminal justice coordinating council, advisory board, or task force, how the respondent would rate the media's understanding and reporting of data and statistics that they provided, and whether the agency provided a mechanism for data users to provide feedback. Interjurisdictional data sharing and integration questions included whether there was a citywide or countywide integrated information systems project underway, whether the respondent's agency participated in the integrated information system and what type of data they shared, whether the agency used data systems that were integrated with systems of other departments/agencies, whether the agency maintained integrated data systems, whether the agency had access to data systems that allow them to track offenders over time, how successful data sharing efforts were, how technical capacities of the agency compared to other neighboring jurisdictions, and what would concern the agency about sharing data with other criminal justice agencies. Incident-based data questions included whether the agency collected and reported incident-based (NIBRS) data and what obstacles the agency experienced with collecting and reporting NIBRS data. Lastly there was one demographic question asking for the population of the city.
Police chief and data analyst surveys were sent to 1,379 agencies. Police chief surveys were received from 780 agencies, resulting in a 56.6 percent response rate. Data analyst surveys were received from 742 agencies, resulting in a 53.8 percent response rate. Response rates for both chiefs and analysts increased with size of population served.
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:
Standardized missing values.
Checked for undocumented or out-of-range codes.