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National Assessment of Technology and Training for Small and Rural Law Enforcement Agencies (NATTS): A Descriptive Analysis

NCJ Number
Date Published
December 2002
37 pages
This document discusses an assessment of the technological capabilities and needs of small and rural law enforcement agencies.
Most of what is known about policing comes from evaluations of urban and large-department policing. Little has been done to examine the current state of small and rural law enforcement. Issues such as availability of training and volume and nature of workload must be assessed in order to guide technology departments for small and rural policing. Over half of the Nation’s local police departments employ less than 10 sworn officers and 90 percent of all local police agencies maintain fewer than 50 sworn officers. For this research, small refers to those agencies with 19 officers or less that serve a population of 50,000 or less. A self-report survey was conducted via mail during the summer of 2000 to obtain information from a representative sample of small and rural law enforcement agencies. The survey questions regarded types and frequency of technology currently used; perceived importance of technology; perceived technological competency levels and technological training needs; technology facilitation; and organizational demographics. Results suggest that rural and small law enforcement agencies nationwide did not utilize many of the types of technology at focus for this research. Agencies tended to use, to be competently trained in, and to perceive as important to the agency, a variety of communications-related technologies, including the personal computer. They tended not to use or be competently trained in more sophisticated technologies, such as car-mounted mobile digital/data terminals and computers, digital imaging, and Global Positioning Systems. This was found to be true to a lesser extent for night vision/electro-optic devices and video cameras. There were not many differences observed between county and municipal agencies on the survey items. The differences observed pertained to the use of computerized files. No differences were found that would suggest that the two types of agencies differed in terms of their current use of technology, or their training needs. Funding and budget constraints were the primary barriers to acquiring technology training, followed by lack of available training. 5 references, 2 appendices

Date Published: December 1, 2002