The primary objective of this study was to learn
more about the application of anti-drug tactics by police: What
tactics are used by police to address drug problems? How widely are
these tactics used? What new and innovative tactics are being
developed and applied by police? What anti-drug tactics are most
effective or show some promise of effectiveness? Answers to these
questions were intended to provide useful information to police
practitioners and to provide some direction to policymakers who must
make decisions about the allocation of resources, organization and
deployment of various units, development of collaborative
relationships with other agencies, and cross-training of personnel in
various tactical approaches.
A mail survey was developed and administered to
state and local law enforcement agencies to document and identify the
frequency with which various drug enforcement tactics were in use and
to search further for previously unidentified tactics. Nearly 750
investigation and patrol units in the United States serving
populations of 50,000 or more were mailed surveys. Two surveys,
identical except for color coding and title, were sent to each
agency's chief of police: one survey was for completion regarding the
patrol unit and the other survey was for completion regarding the
investigations unit. This dual pattern of administration was intended
to capture the extent to which the techniques of one unit had been
applied by another. Basic data collection efforts began prior to
primary data collection with a comprehensive literature review and
consultations with panels of practitioner and academic drug experts.
These data were used to develop a listing of the various anti-drug
tactics that could be readily identified. This listing was designed to
cover both traditional and nontraditional or innovative tactics. Based
on the basic data collection, some 140 various drug tactics were
identified. Research staff participated in a meeting with an expert
advisory panel including law enforcement representatives to group the
various tactics into mutually exclusive, concise, and closely-related
categories of tactics. The survey instrument was designed to collect
information about the use of various drug enforcement tactics, improve
the comprehensiveness of the list of anti-drug tactics by soliciting
additional tactics, and gain more detailed insight into the nature of
promising anti-drug tactics.
Nearly 750 state and local law enforcement agencies
serving populations of 50,000 or more were mailed surveys. A total of
630 (323 investigation, 307 patrol) respondents (84 percent) replied
to the survey.
State and local law enforcement agencies in the United
States serving populations of 50,000 or more.
Law enforcement agencies.
The questionnaire consisted primarily of
dichotomous survey questions on anti-drug tactics that could be
answered "yes" or "no". In each of the 14 categories of tactics,
respondents were encouraged to add other previously unidentified or
unspecified tactics in use in their agencies. These open-ended
questions were designed to insure that a final list of anti-drug
tactics would be truly comprehensive and capture the universe of drug
tactics in use. In addition to questions regarding structural
dimensions of anti-drug tactics, the survey also collected
standardized information about the law enforcement agency, including
agency size, demographic characteristics and size of the agency's
service population, and a description of the relative size and nature
of the jurisdiction's drug problems.
This study produced a total initial sample of
750 state and local law enforcement agencies. A total of 387 agencies
(51 percent) responded, producing a final sample consisting of 323
investigation units and 307 patrol units.