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Assessing an Automated, Information Sharing Technology in the Post "9-11" Era--Do Local Law Enforcement Officers Think It Meets Their Needs?

NCJ Number
Date Published
January 2004
217 pages
This study examined whether information-sharing technology (IT) improves law-enforcement performance, and if so, how it is improved.
This was done by determining any differences in perception of the value of IT between law enforcement officers with access to automated regional information sharing and those without it. Officers' assessment of the value of IT was analyzed in the context of intervening variables such as user characteristics, training, and experience. The research sample consisted of 588 officers approximately evenly divided between 2 sheriff's offices. One of the offices (the study group) uses IT in its work, and the other office (the comparison group) does not. In order to determine whether IT distinguished between performance levels of the two groups, triangulated methodologies were used, which included surveys, interviews, direct observation, and a review of office records. Data analysis used the statistical methods of descriptive statistics, Chi-Square, factor analysis, principal component analysis, Cronbach's Alpha, Mann-Whitney tests, analysis of variance, and Scheffe's post-hoc analysis. The study group believed that IT played a greater role in solving crime and increasing officer productivity than did the comparison group, and the study group was more satisfied with the data available to it; however, there was no significant difference in the number of arrests made between the two departments. For the comparison group, the presence of a strong performance management imperative was a key factor in case clearances and arrests. Level of education did not influence a user's satisfaction with IT, but user-satisfaction scores differed significantly according to years of experience and the amount of computer training. This study concludes that IT does assist law enforcement officers in performing their jobs, but an agency's overall production also depends on other factors as well, such as computer training, officer experience, and agency policies and management styles. 31 tables, 5 figures, a 71-item bibliography

Date Published: January 1, 2004