"The Diffusion of Information Technology in Policing." Police Practice and Research:
An International Journal, 6 (No 5, December), 2005, 401-418.
This study examines the diffusion of innovation among municipal police departments in
northeastern Illinois. The opportunity to adopt an innovation arose when the Chicago Police
Department opened access to elements of its new centralized Data Warehouse to other
criminal justice agencies. There is a long history of research on the diffusion of innovation,
and a number of recent projects have applied this work to policing. Like innovation studies
generally, this paper presents the shape of the diffusion curve that describes the pace of
adoption, and it examines factors associated with adoption and the extent to which the
innovation was actually used. Adoption and extent of utilization proved to be largely
independent processes. Involvement in cosmopolitan networks, experience with using
databases for law enforcement, and the human capital capacities of the organizations
influenced the adoption decision, while organizational resources and experience in using the
system drove the level of actual use. The rapid growth of system utilization was apparently
due to three factors: the active role played by the ‘evangelist' representing the host
department; the fact that access to the system was free; and because it primarily empowered
detectives–who enjoy a privileged position in policing–and did not challenge the traditional
mission and organization of participating agencies.
Information Technology