U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government, Department of Justice.

Strategic Policing Philosophy and the Acquisition of Technology: Findings From a Nationally Representative Survey of Law Enforcement

NCJ Number
Policing & Society Volume: 29 Issue: 6 Dated: 2019 Pages: 727-743
Date Published
17 pages
Using survey data from a large and nationally representative sample of police agencies in the United States (N-749), this study examined whether strategic police goals are associated with technology use for the six core technologies of crime mapping, social media, data mining software, car cameras, license plate readers (LPRs), and body-worn cameras (BWCs).

Police departments that emphasize certain strategic models (e.g. community-oriented policing, problem-oriented policing) may adopt specific types of technology to better achieve their core missions. A contrasting theory is that police agencies do not invest strategically in technology; rather, they adopt technology in a 'black box' without a larger plan for how a particular technology fits within the agency's guiding philosophy or operational goals. Despite the importance of this discourse, very little research has addressed these claims. In addressing this research gap, the current study found little relationship between strategic goals of a law enforcement agency and technology. Agency size, rather than policing philosophy, was a more important determinant of technology use; however, stronger relationships between strategy and technology emerged when the analysis was limited to a subsample of larger agencies (250 or more sworn officers). Specifically, community and hot-spot policing strategies were positively associated with the use of geographic information system technology, social media, and LPRs. Agencies that emphasized hot-spot policing were also more likely to have used BWCs. Implications of these findings are discussed. (publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: January 1, 2019