Computer Crime: Comparing Police Officer Perceptions With Empirical Data

Scott R. Senjo, Weber State University

The rate of computer-related crime continues to escalate while the rate of most index crimes has modestly declined. Computer network intrusions such as DoS attacks and fraud perpetrated over the Internet annually cost American society significant sums of money. Municipal police responses to this modern crime problem are varied. Future responses remain uncertain except for the inexorable need to formulate more effective local law enforcement strategies. This article is a study of police officer perceptions of computer-related crime. Officers (N=251) from two medium and two large size municipal jurisdictions in a single state were surveyed to examine their perception of computer crime. Findings indicate that what police officers believe about computer crime reflects media driven stereotypes and may be influenced by oral considerations. Officer perceptions are inconsistent with the empirical facts on computer crime as reported in the literature on the subject.

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Updated 05/20/2006