To read the full version of this content please select one of the options below:

An organizational approach to understanding police response to cybercrime

Jeffrey Nowacki (Department of Sociology, Colorado State University , Fort Collins, Colorado, USA )
Dale Willits (Department of Criminal Justice and Criminology, Washington State University , Pullman, Washington, USA )

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 2 December 2019

Issue publication date: 6 April 2020



The purpose of this paper is to use Maguire’s (2003) theory of police organizations to explain whether police agencies dedicate specific personnel to cybercrime response.


Data from this study come from the 2013 Law Enforcement Management and Statistics survey. Maguire’s (2003) theory of the organizational structure of police organizations is used to measure organizational variables related to context, complexity and control. Logistic regression is used to examine whether these organizational characteristics are related to cybercrime response.


The results suggest that organizational context, complexity and control are related to cybercrime response. Specifically, in terms of context, larger agencies, agencies whose officers engage in more non-routine tasks, and agencies governed by an active collective bargaining agreement are more likely to dedicate specific resources to cybercrime. In terms of complexity, agencies with more hierarchical layers, agencies that utilize more specialization and agencies that make greater use of civilian employees are more likely to dedicate specific personnel to cybercrime. Finally, regarding control, agencies that assign non-sworn personnel to administrative tasks are more likely to dedicate resources to cybercrime response.


This study is one of the first to use this framework to examine the relationship between organizational characteristics and cybercrime response. It shows that this perspective can be useful for understanding police organizations and police policies, programs and strategies.



Nowacki, J. and Willits, D. (2020), "An organizational approach to understanding police response to cybercrime", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 43 No. 1, pp. 63-76.



Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited