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Police Innovations and the Structure of Informal Communication Between Police Agencies: Network and LEMAS Data

NCJ Number
Date Published
September 2006
112 pages
This study examined the pattern of informal communications among police agencies and the influence it has had on the adoption of innovations and change in agency practices.
The study found that different processes of communications, contacts, and networking were involved for each of the innovations examined, i.e., community policing, the geographic assignment of detectives, the use of the SARA method of problem-solving, the use of computers for resource allocation, and the use of computers for crime mapping. The facilitation of networking and communication for each type of innovation should focus on the particular type of existing networking practices for that innovation. Findings indicate that departments do seek out experts in other agencies for advice on various innovations; smaller agencies generally seek out experts in larger agencies, and larger agencies seek out experts in agencies similar to themselves. The research community should devote resources to the identification and publicizing of individuals and agencies that meet specified standards of expertise. Efforts should be made to induce agencies to develop networks of communication that foster and guide innovation; the issue that requires study is whether existing informal networks should be formally adopted and fine-tuned or new networking structures developed. Data on informal contacts between police planners in various city, county, and State law enforcement agencies was obtained from Weiss' Communication of Innovation in Policing in the United States (1997). The Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics (LEMAS) datasets for 1997, 1999, and 2000 were used to predict adoption of or change in agency practices. Supplementary data were drawn from the Census of State and Local Law Enforcement Agencies for 2000. Extensive tables, 45 references, and 13 notes

Date Published: September 1, 2006