Computing Crime: Information Technology, Police Effectiveness and the Organization of Policing
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business - Economics; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)
Paul S. Heaton
University of Pennsylvania Law School
CEPR Discussion Paper No. 5837
How does information technology (IT) affect the organization of police work? How does it in turn affect police crime-fighting effectiveness? To answer these questions, we construct a new panel data set of police departments covering 1987-2003. We find that while IT adoption had substantial effects on a wide range of police organizational practices, it had, by itself, a negligible impact on crime-fighting effectiveness. These results are robust to various methods for controlling for agency-level characteristics and the endogeneity of IT use. We then suggest and test two explanations for this puzzle. First, we demonstrate that use of a particular technology, computerized record-keeping, increased recorded crime rates. Second, we provide evidence that IT investments only had a substantial impact on crime clearance rates and crime rates when undertaken as part of a broad set of complementary organizational practices such as those in the Compstat program.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 45
Keywords: Information technology, organization, hierarchy, skills, police
JEL Classification: K42, L23, M5, O33
Date posted: November 14, 2006
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