skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 77204 Find in a Library
Title: Police and Computer Technology - The Expectations and the Results
Author(s): K W Colton
Date Published: Unknown
Page Count: 11
Type: Program Description (Model)
Format: Document
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Based on research efforts from 1971 to 1979, this paper evaluates the results of routine and nonroutine applications of police computer technology and addresses the consequences and diffusion of innovation.
Abstract: The research included two national surveys of U.S. police departments in 1971 and 1974 and a series of seven case studies in different police departments around the country. Since the mid-1960's, when the first police computer system was installed in the St. Louis Police Department, the computer has become a permanent part of law enforcement technology. However, successful implementation has often been limited to routine areas, and results of computer applications to nonroutine areas have been disappointing. Routine applications involve the relatively straightforward, repetitive manipulation and inquiry of prescribed data, often by means of a definite procedure. The same manipulation was usually done by hand before the computer was used. Such routine applications include traffic files, crime statistical files, police administration, and miscellaneous operations. However, in nonroutine applications, the computer becomes a tool for decisionmaking, strategic planning, and person-technology interaction. Nonroutine application areas in law enforcement include resource allocation, investigation of crime, and command and control -- including computer-aided dispatch and automatic vehicle monitoring. Routine and nonroutine applications should be viewed as delineating two ends of a continuum. As applications move toward the nonroutine end of the continuum, systems design becomes more intricate, and behavioral, personality, and organizational considerations become more significant. This paper observes that the 1967 Crime Commission Report raised expectations about the extent of computer applications to law enforcement too high and failed to focus adequate attention on the implementation and diffusion of innovation throughout the law enforcement community. The eventual influence and impact of technology in policing will not come from technology per se, but from an interaction between police work, the nature of a particular department, and any specific innovation. Moreover, the use of technology may have an important influence on power and prominence within organizations. Finally, the diffusion of police computer technology in the future will involve four basic steps: inventing (the creating of ideas, technologies, and models), informing (publicizing the technology and educating the law enforcement agency), and integrating (the overall social and economic acceptance and adjustment to the innovation by the agency). Figures and 26 notes are provided.
Index Term(s): Automated police information systems; Computer aided operations; Criminal justice information systems; Information dissemination; Model programs; Police command and control; Police management; Police resource allocation; Statistical analysis; Technology transfer
Note: Paper presented at the National Computer Conference, 1979.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.