This paper examines the implications of a recent U.S. study of police technology purchasing decisions that found such decisions generally do not take into account how the technology under consideration will be integrated into the agency’s overall policing strategy or philosophy.
Overall, however, the research concluded that technology has had a positive impact on U.S. law enforcement. It has increased efficiency, improved communication, facilitated information-sharing within and among agencies, and improved data collection and analysis. On the other hand, the study’s survey, which was administered to just over 1,200 state and local law enforcement agencies, determined that technology has not had a game-changing impact on policing in terms of significantly altering the philosophies and strategies used to prevent crime, respond to crime, or improve public safety. The greatest impact across all agencies involved automated records management and computer-aided dispatch. The study recommends that agencies incorporate evidence-based research into the linking of a technology to the agency’s goals, organizational culture, and policing strategies. It also recommends that technology considerations be included in strategic planning and that technology decisions involve collaboration between agency decision-makers and technology experts. Further, agencies should analyze their past performance in adopting and implementing technologies, so as to identify mistakes and increase the likelihood of more fruitful uses of technology in the future.
Date Published: July 1, 2018