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

by William Schwabe, Lois M. Davis, Brian A. Jackson


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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.

Table of Contents

  • Preface PDF

  • Figures PDF

  • Tables PDF

  • Summary

    Executive Summary PDF

  • Acknowledgements

    Acknowledgments PDF

  • Abbreviations

    List of Abbreviations PDF

  • Chapter One

    Introduction PDF

  • Part I

    Law Enforcement's Use of Technology

  • Chapter Two

    Crime Prevention PDF

  • Chapter Three

    First Response PDF

  • Chapter Four

    Investigation and Apprehension PDF

  • Chapter Five

    Forensic Analysis PDF

  • Chapter Six

    Administration and Management PDF

  • Part II

    Federal Challenges and Choices PDF

  • Chapter Seven

    Sources of Technology Information and Support PDF

  • Chapter Eight

    Research, Development, and Deployment PDF

  • Chapter Nine

    Technology Application PDF

  • Chapter Ten

    Challenges and Choices PDF

  • Appendix A

    RAND Survey Methodology PDF

  • Appendix B

    Examples of NLECTC Technology Assistance Activities PDF

  • References PDF

Book Review Excerpts

"A local agency may think they need certain types of technology, but after reading this they may realize some technology could be a hindrance to operations … Schwabe et al. (2001) created an informative study which could be useful for policy makers, law enforcement agencies, and researchers. This publication was a good example of how research can be transformed into informed policy recommendations."

- Criminal Justice Policy Review

The research described in this report was performed under the auspices of RAND's Science and Technology unit.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation monograph report series. The monograph/report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1993 to 2003. RAND monograph/reports presented major research findings that addressed the challenges facing the public and private sectors. They included executive summaries, technical documentation, and synthesis pieces.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.