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

  • Figures

  • Tables

  • Summary

    Executive Summary

  • Acknowledgements

    Acknowledgments

  • Abbreviations

    List of Abbreviations

  • Chapter One

    Introduction

  • Part I

    Law Enforcement's Use of Technology

  • Chapter Two

    Crime Prevention

  • Chapter Three

    First Response

  • Chapter Four

    Investigation and Apprehension

  • Chapter Five

    Forensic Analysis

  • Chapter Six

    Administration and Management

  • Part II

    Federal Challenges and Choices

  • Chapter Seven

    Sources of Technology Information and Support

  • Chapter Eight

    Research, Development, and Deployment

  • Chapter Nine

    Technology Application

  • Chapter Ten

    Challenges and Choices

  • Appendix A

    RAND Survey Methodology

  • Appendix B

    Examples of NLECTC Technology Assistance Activities

  • References

"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

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