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Informal Information Sharing Among Police Agencies

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 1998
2 pages
Publication Series
This paper reports on a survey that examined the informal network of information sharing among police organizations; through this informal network, police planners and others directly contact other law enforcement agencies to obtain the information they need to manage their departments.
The survey was administered to police planners in 360 local organizations (all with 100 or more sworn officers) and 43 State law enforcement agencies between March and June 1996. The response rate was 71 percent. The survey focused on seven issues: What agencies are planners most likely to contact when they look for information? What factors influence the choice of a contact? How frequent are these contacts? What is the mode of communication? What are the resource requirements associated with these requests? Are requests for information specific? How well are police planning and research units prepared to conduct research? The survey found that the communication between law enforcement planners is both frequent and relatively well organized. The principal mode of communication is by telephone, but newer technologies such as the electronic bulletin boards and World Wide Web sites show significant potential. Police organizations devoted significant resources to responding to outside agencies' requests for information. Agency similarity and reputation of the organization were key factors for police planners when selecting the particular agency to contact. Most planning and research managers believed that their staff have not had adequate preparation in the skills required to conduct research in their own organizations. This paper concludes with suggestions for enhancing the informal network of information exchange and recommends topics for further research.

Date Published: December 1, 1998