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The role of research and planning units in law enforcement organizations

Cory P. Haberman (Department of Criminal Justice, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA)
William R. King (College of Criminal Justice, Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 8 November 2011




This paper seeks to empirically describe the role of research and planning units within contemporary, local police organizations in the US.


Data were collected from a national survey of police organizations, municipal police agencies and sheriffs' offices in the US and analyzed using univariate statistics.


The findings demonstrate that the task scope of research and planning units (RPU) within local law enforcement organizations is heterogeneous. RPUs perform a range of tasks and these tasks differ from one agency to another. When separate tasks are aggregated into broader categories, the data reveal that, overall, RPUs focus primarily on administrative tasks.

Practical implications

These findings suggest that RPUs primarily focus on administrative support tasks rather than research and planning projects. Thus, RPUs may be underutilized by law enforcement organizations. These findings suggest that administrators consider how the task scope of RPUs can be refocused to help law enforcement agencies achieve their goals.


This paper empirically updates the understanding of the tasks and functions of contemporary police research and planning units.



Haberman, C.P. and King, W.R. (2011), "The role of research and planning units in law enforcement organizations", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 34 No. 4, pp. 687-698.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2011, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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