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Uses and Impacts of Mobile Computing Technology in Hot Spots Policing

NCJ Number
Evaluation Review Volume: 39 Issue: 6 Dated: December 2015 Pages: 587-624
Date Published
December 2015
38 pages

This study examined the uses and crime control impacts of mobile computing technology in the context of geographically focused "hot spots" patrols.


The study found that officers used mobile computing technology primarily for surveillance and enforcement (e.g., checking automobile license plates and running checks on people during traffic stops and field interviews), and they noted both advantages and disadvantages to its use. Officers did not often use technology for strategic problem-solving and crime prevention. Given sufficient (but modest) dosages, the extra patrols reduced crime at the hot spots, but this effect was smaller in places where officers made greater use of technology. Basic applications of mobile computing may have little if any direct, measurable impact on officers' ability to reduce crime in the field. Greater training and emphasis on strategic uses of IT for problem-solving and crime prevention, and greater attention to its behavioral effects on officers, might enhance its application for crime reduction. The study used 18 crime hot spots in a suburban jurisdiction. Nine of these locations were randomly selected to receive additional patrols over 11 weeks. Researchers studied officers' use of mobile information technology (IT) during the patrols using activity logs and interviews. Nonrandomized subgroup and multivariate analyses were used to determine if and how the effects of the patrols varied based on these patterns. 61 references (Publisher abstract modified)

Date Published: December 1, 2015