E-Policing: Environmental and Organizational Correlates of Website Features and Characteristics Among Large Police Departments in the United States of America

E-Policing: Environmental and Organizational Correlates of Website Features and Characteristics Among Large Police Departments in the United States of America

Melchor C. de Guzman (The College at Brockport, State University of New York, USA) and Matthew A. Jones (Portland State University, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/jegr.2012010104
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Increasingly, information technology has pervaded the provision of services by police agencies in the United States. Recent research (Jones & de Guzman, 2010) has illustrated that although most police organizations maintain a web presence, these departments showed significant variations in the quality of their websites and the services they offer through the Internet. Using a sample of 162 large municipal police agencies in the United States, this research isolated the factors that contribute to the adoption of e-government practices. Environmental and organizational factors were tested as explanatory variables. The results indicated that organizational resource constraints had minimal influences on the quality and function of police websites and that officer education appeared as the primary predictor. With respect to environmental factors, population size and their levels of education were significantly related to the features and characteristics of police websites. Likewise, the research examined contingency and institutional theories to explain different features and characteristics of police websites. The data tended to support assumptions made by institutional theory.
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Police scholars claim that practices by police organizations are largely based upon organizational and environmental factors (Cordner & Scarborough, 2010; Langworthy, 1986; Maguire, 2003; Paoline & Sloan, 2003; Jones, 2008; Wells, Falcone, & Rabe-Hemp, 2003; Wilson, 2006; Zhao, Hassell, & Maguire, 2003). With the advent of community policing, the police are further required to be responsive and sensitive to environmental demands (Liederbach, Fritsch, Carter, & Bannister, 2007; Goldstein, 1990; Wilson & Kelling, 1982). However, the police have been continuously plagued by their inability to solicit inputs from the community (Skogan, 2004). Thus, through the years the police have implemented various strategies and technologies to get in touch with the public. For example, the police have relied on personal touch through foot patrols and citizen contacts in order to reach out to their clients (Cordner, 1997; Cordner & Scarborough, 2010; Wilson & Kelling, 1982). More recently, the police have been using technology to reach out to the citizens through the use of the telephones (Cole & Smith, 2011; Walker, 1984). With the introduction of community policing, police departments have reinvented themselves by combining personal touch and technology to solicit inputs from and develop good relationships with the community. Thus, police organizations have used Computer Statistics (COMPSTAT) (McDonald, 2001; Swanson, Territo, & Taylor, 2008; Walsh & Vito, 2004), crime mapping, Geographic Information Systems (GIS), linkage analysis (Dempsey & Frost, 2008; Collins, Johnson, Choy, Davidson, & Mackay, 1998) or other forms of computer-related technology to gather and analyze inputs from the community.

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