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Evaluation of Innovative Technology: Implications for the Community Policing Roles of Law Enforcement Officers

NCJ Number
Date Published
79 pages
This evaluation examined the effects of the San Francisco Police Department's (SFPD's) use of Mobile Computer Terminals (MCT's) on two measures of organizational effectiveness: the number of hours saved through MCT's and the allocation of time saved to community policing.
Of the 1,091 sworn members of the SFPD, 819 participated in the evaluation's survey and ride-along observations across 3 time periods. The ride-along observations of police activity focused on whether the activity involved traditional policing, community policing, or a combination of the two. Community policing activities were defined as external community-building (philosophical), development of a knowledge base about criminal activity within the community serviced, proactive problem solving, and internal community building (organizational). Officers were surveyed to determine their acceptance of the new MCT's. Measuring computer use at the station and in the field assessed the extent to which the MCT's improved operational efficiency. The allocation of time saved was examined in a series of analyses that considered the allocation of time to various police activities at the station and in the field. The analyses found that officers were more likely to use the MCT's in the field for reasons other than report writing rather than return to the station. In a 10-hour shift, 36 minutes was estimated to be the time saved. The evaluation also found that the MCT's increased time spent on calls for service, an activity that contained elements of proactive problem solving. The number of community policing activities during encounters with civilians, calls for service, and specific patrol remained stable after the MCT's were installed; however, officers who used the MCT's manifested more community policing elements during station activity compared to officers who were not using the MCT's. Officers' attitudes toward community policing and technology acceptance were measured, but they did not emerge as significant covariates. Further exploration of the community policing and technology acceptance constructs is warranted, particularly as moderators of the relationship between police activities and technology innovation. 12 references and appended evaluation data and forms

Date Published: January 1, 2001