Challenges and Choices for Crime-Fighting Technology Federal Support of State and Local Law Enforcement

Challenges and Choices for Crime-Fighting Technology Federal Support of State and Local Law Enforcement

William Schwabe
Lois M. Davis
Brian A. Jackson
Copyright Date: 2001
Edition: 1
Published by: RAND Corporation
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7249/mr1349ostp
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Challenges and Choices for Crime-Fighting Technology Federal Support of State and Local Law Enforcement
    Book Description:

    Under the American federal system, most law is cast as state statutes and local ordinances; accordingly, most law enforcement is the responsibility of state and local agencies. Federal law and federal law enforcement come into play only where there is rationale for it, consistent with the Constitution. Within this framework, a clear role has been identified for federal support of state and local agencies. This report provides findings of a study of technology in use or needed by law enforcement agencies at the state and local level, for the purpose of informing federal policymakers as they consider technology-related support for these agencies. In addition, it seeks to characterize the obstacles that exist to technology adoption by law enforcement agencies and to characterize the perceived effects of federal assistance programs intended to facilitate the process. The study findings are based on a nationwide Law Enforcement Technology Survey and a similar Forensics Technology Survey (FTS) conducted in late spring and early summer2000, interviews conducted throughout the year, focus groups conducted in autumn 2000, and review of an extensive, largely nonacademic literature. Companion reports: Schwabe, William, Needs and Prospects for Crime-Fighting Technology: The Federal Role in Assisting State and Local Law Enforcement, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 1999. Davis, Lois M., William Schwabe, and Ronald Fricker, Challenges and Choices for Crime-Fighting Technology: Results from Two Nationwide Surveys, Santa Monica, Calif.: RAND, 2001.

    eISBN: 978-0-8330-3239-3
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. FIGURES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. TABLES
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  6. EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
    (pp. xv-xxxvi)
  7. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xxxvii-xxxviii)
  8. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xxxix-xl)
  9. Chapter One INTRODUCTION
    (pp. 1-10)

    …[At] a time when we have a budget surplus that enables us to make some larger investments in the future, there is no reason not to “think big” when it comes to crime technology R&D. After all, the rationale for spending on crime-fighting R&D is at least as strong as the basis for the more prominent areas of federal R&D spending. As with defense, government is the ultimate consumer of law enforcement R&D. As with medical research, the public’s health and safety is at stake. As with environmental research, the problems and questions are becoming more complex and more difficult...

  10. Part I LAW ENFORCEMENT’S USE OF TECHNOLOGY
    • Chapter Two CRIME PREVENTION
      (pp. 13-24)

      From the perspective of society as a whole, the best and most useful activity that law enforcement agencies can carry out is crime prevention. If crimes are successfully (and justly) prevented before they occur, the societal costs and suffering associated with the effects of crime are completely avoided. Police carry part—but by no means all—of the responsibility for crime prevention:

      Most crime prevention results from informal and formal practices and programs located in seven institutional settings. These institutions appear to be “interdependent” at the local level, in that events in one of these institutions can affect events in...

    • Chapter Three FIRST RESPONSE
      (pp. 25-44)

      In spite of well-intentioned and rigorously pursued prevention efforts by law enforcement and others, a certain amount of crime will likely always occur. When criminal acts do happen, the focus of law enforcement shifts to finding the most effective ways and methods to respond. In this chapter, the process of police response is broken down into the broad areas of situational reporting, tactical communication, protection of officers, and management of pursuit. The chapter concludes with a discussion of the special interest topic of counter-terrorism.

      Major findings from the chapter include:

      Command and control technology is considered a high or medium...

    • Chapter Four INVESTIGATION AND APPREHENSION
      (pp. 45-54)

      When a crime has been committed and police have responded to the scene, law enforcement activity transitions in focus from situation management toward the goal of successfully identifying individual perpetrators and bringing them to justice. In this process of evidence collection and suspect identification, technology has many roles to play in broadening the capability and increasing the effectiveness of investigators.

      Major findings from the chapter include:

      Most local police departments (90 percent) reported that they lacked technology to detect or analyze cyberattacks. Even for departments in large urban areas (more than 225,000 population), three quarters of departments reported that they...

    • Chapter Five FORENSIC ANALYSIS
      (pp. 55-82)

      Forensic science is the application of scientific knowledge to legal problems or proceedings. In law enforcement, forensic science is largely concerned with testing physical and biological evidence to determine objective facts about what happened, when it happened, and who was involved. As a result, forensic science capability is important because it may yield information that is more accurate, precise, and reliable than eyewitness testimony or even confessions.¹ Such information, in turn, can increase the success of both investigations and trials in determining the facts of the case.

      As the results of the RAND Forensic Technology Survey and accompanying case studies...

    • Chapter Six ADMINISTRATION AND MANAGEMENT
      (pp. 83-112)

      Although the term “law enforcement technology” most readily evokes images of smart guns or DNA analysis, there are many “less glamorous” roles that can be played by technology that nonetheless can have a dramatic impact on the ability of law enforcement organizations to police their jurisdictions and ensure public safety. One of the main areas is the administration and management of departments and their deployment of their human and technical assets.

      Some central findings of this chapter include:

      Information Technology—while most police officers now have access to computer technology in their workspaces, IT-related needs are still high priority for...

  11. Part II FEDERAL CHALLENGES AND CHOICES
    • Chapter Seven SOURCES OF TECHNOLOGY INFORMATION AND SUPPORT
      (pp. 123-128)

      Before any organization, law enforcement or otherwise, can adopt a new technology, it must become aware of its existence and its capabilities. This awareness can come from many sources in both the public and private sectors ranging from word-of-mouth contact with peers to the advertising produced by technology vendors. Once basic information has been obtained about a new or unfamiliar technology, the individuals responsible for technology procurement must generally begin a learning process to gain a better understanding of the technology’s capabilities and limitations. Allocation of scarce resources in any situation always implies opportunity costs and the more information that...

    • Chapter Eight RESEARCH, DEVELOPMENT, AND DEPLOYMENT
      (pp. 129-142)

      In this chapter we discuss a number of different activities undertaken by the federal government aimed at helping to meet the technology needs of local and state law enforcement. These activities seek to address the technology adoption roadblocks discussed throughout this report to facilitate the deployment and effective use of new technologies by law enforcement organizations. Though there is some overlap in the particular roadblocks which the programs described in this chapter and those in the following chapter address, those included here are aimed at the barriers of cost, technology risk, and, indirectly, at the unanticipated risks of acquiring new...

    • Chapter Nine TECHNOLOGY APPLICATION
      (pp. 143-152)

      After provision of information and the development and/or deployment of a commercialized technology, the final step of the technology adoption process for an organization is applying the technology to its operational problems. Because such a process is learning intensive and often difficult, providing application assistance can often aid in removing barriers to effective use of technology. Because of the difficulties that can occur, a number of government strategies exist to attempt to facilitate complete technology adoption so law enforcement organizations are able to use their acquired technologies to the greatest public benefit. The strategies discussed in this chapter focus mainly...

    • Chapter Ten CHALLENGES AND CHOICES
      (pp. 153-166)

      The job of law enforcement is never an easy one. Operating within a complex society, police organizations must be constantly on the lookout for new threats to public safety and devise ways to counter those threats. Those who endeavor to break the law are constantly adopting new forms of technology. Recent years have shown not just the appearance of crimes that would have been unheard of two decades ago, including identity theft and cybercrime, but also the effects of the most raw and basic technology adoption by criminals. It is difficult to envision a more dramatic demonstration of the technological...

  12. Appendix A RAND SURVEY METHODOLOGY
    (pp. 167-174)
  13. Appendix B EXAMPLES OF NLECTC TECHNOLOGY ASSISTANCE ACTIVITIES
    (pp. 175-192)
  14. REFERENCES
    (pp. 193-200)