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National Survey of Police Policies and Practices Regarding the Criminal Investigations Process: Twenty-Five Years After Rand

NCJ Number
Date Published
November 2001
178 pages
This study examined police practices, policies, goals, and perspectives of the criminal investigation process.
The criminal investigation process is a fundamental and crucial aspect of police work, yet researchers have not studied the subject since the Rand Report over three decades ago. As such, this study represents the first nationally representative investigation of police criminal investigation practices in the United States. Chapter 1 provides an introduction to the study and summarizes previous research in this field. Chapter 2 discusses the research methodology. Questionnaires were completed by 1,746 State and local police agencies; both large and small agencies were included in the sample. The questionnaire instrument contained 87 questions regarding 6 main areas of interest: organizational matters, the role of patrol officers, the role of investigators, investigation management, investigation support services, and investigative effectiveness. Chapter 3 presents the results of the study, which are divided into six sections based on the six main areas of interest. Chapter 4 offers a discussion of the research findings. Generally, the findings reveal that the criminal investigation process has remained relatively unchanged in the face of the many paradigm shifts in the profession of policing over the past 30 years. Two issues emerged as stable and critical elements of the criminal investigation process: the role of the public as the primary provider of crime information to the police and the role of the patrol officer in solving crimes. Finally, the authors note that while technological advances have had a measurable impact on other police processes, technology remains only a supportive service in the investigation process. While this research has helped provide a clearer picture of the criminal investigation process, more research in this area is encouraged. Tables, footnotes, bibliography, appendix

Date Published: November 1, 2001