Patrol Officers' Perceived Role in Responding to Cybercrime

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Publication Title

Policing: An International Journal of Police Strategies & Management




Purpose: Little empirical research exists regarding how local law enforcement has responded to cybercrime. This paper aims to understand: the law enforcement agencies that line officers believe should be primarily responsible for investigating cybercrime cases; their perceptions about their agency's current ability to respond to these offenses; and their beliefs regarding the best ways to improve the social response to cybercrime.

Design/methodology/approach: The authors surveyed patrol officers in the Charlotte‐Mecklenburg and Savannah‐Chatham Metropolitan police departments.

Findings: The authors found that officers do not believe that local law enforcement should be primarily responsible for handling cybercrime cases and they have little information on how upper management is addressing cybercrime. Officers indicated that the best strategies to deal with cybercrime were greater care taken by citizens online and improvements to the legal system.

Research limitations/implications: Local law enforcement agencies feel they are unable to fully address cybercrime. Although the findings were generally consistent across demographic and experiential characteristics and cities, two cities in the southeastern United States were surveyed.

Practical implications: According to these officers, they want citizens to be more careful online and for clarification of cybercrime laws and increased prosecutions. They do not favor local cybercrime units and additional computer training for line officers as much as scholars and police administrators advocate.

Originality/value: This paper studied the perceptions of patrol officers, who are the first responders to most crime scenes, on local law enforcement responses to cybercrime and the strategies they view to be most effective in combating cybercrime.