The purpose of this study was to investigate how technology utilization impacts policing. Specifically, what purposes are technology used for, how does technology influence police, at both the organizational and individual level, how does the use of technology affect crime control efforts and community policing and what organization practices and changes help to optimize the use of technologies in enhancing police effectiveness. To answer these question the study focused on nine key themes
- agencies experience with technological innovation
- Police culture
- Organizational units, hierarchy and structure
- Internal accountability and management systems
- Individual officer/ supervisor discretion and decision making
- Efficiency of police processes and daily work productivity
- Effectiveness in reducing crime (prevention, detection, and deterrence)
- Police-citizen communication and police legitimacy
- Job satisfaction
The study design was multimethod case studies conducted in four large police agencies. In each study site, the case studies entailed a technology survey, interviews, focus groups, and field observations.
The sworn officer technology survey was administered to all sworn personal in the study's four agencies. The survey was conducted online. The command staff of each agency sent an email to all sworn staff that proved background on the project and explained the purpose of the survey. Participation was voluntary and anonymous. The survey was conducted over several weeks in each agency, sending out periodic reminder emails.
In addition to the survey interviews, focus groups, and field observations were conducted with sworn and civilian personnel from various units and ranks in each agency. The George Mason research team conducted the interviews and focus groups in agencies 1 and 2, while the Police Executive Research Forum assumed primary responsibility for the fieldwork in agencies 3 and 4.
For agency 1, George Mason also conducted a trend analysis of crime and case clearance before and after the agencies implementation of new record management system and license plate reader deployments. Examinations of the use and impact of mobile information technology as part of a randomized experiment on hot spots policing was also conducted. For agency 2, a quasi-experimental evaluation of the effects of an international information-sharing social media technology on the outcomes of robbery investigations was conducted.
The case studies were conducted in four large police agencies serving a mix of urban and suburban jurisdictions. Each case study agency was selected because of its unique experience with one or more technologies of interest. All sworn personnel within each agency was sent a survey invitation with reminders.
All law enforcement personnel in the United States between 2012 and 2013.
The variables in the study (Data n=1,696, 531 variables) included background characteristics such as rank and assignment, cultural attitudes towards technology and implementation of technologies. Other variables pertain to agency structure, internal accountability, discretion and decision making, efficiencies of police processes and productivity, and effectiveness in reducing crime and assisting citizens, and job satisfaction.
The response rate varied by agency with Agency 1 having a 39.9% response rate, Agency 2 having a 41.7% response rate, Agency 3 having a 17.3% response rate, and Agency 4 having a 20.1% response rate.
Two Likert-type scales were used. The first scale ranged from strongly disagree to strongly agree and the second scale ranged from never to very often.