Developing A Comprehensive Analysis of Police Organizations in the U.S.

L. Edward Wells, Illinois State University
David N. Falcone, Illinois State University

Research on patterns of policing in the U.S. has been hampered by limited data on police organizations that are both theoretically comprehensive and geographically representative. Organizationally detailed research has been based on geographically limited, nonrepresentive convenience samples that yield mixed results; however, recent national data sets on policing collected by NIJ have provided wide geographic coverage but included sparse, incomplete measurement of important organizational variables, especially regarding their community settings and environments. This paper describes the development of a nationally representive, theoretically diverse data set on police agencies created by merging police organizational variables from 1999 LEMAS survey with crime-related data from the Uniform Crime Report, community-related data from the City-County Data Book, and governmental data from the ICMA Yearbook. The resulting combined data file is used to provide a more comprehensive empirical description of police organizational structures and practices across all parts of the U.S., as well as to assess how these structures and practices vary across different types of police agencies and geographic regions.

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Updated 05/20/2006