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Police accreditation and clearance rates

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Purpose ‐ The aim of this paper is to examine whether accredited police agencies display higher clearance rates than their non-accredited counterparts. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The study group consists of all municipal police departments operating continuously in the State of Florida from 1997 through 2006. Independent variables capture organizational characteristics for nearly 260 agencies to determine whether becoming accredited improves clearance rates. Findings ‐ Random-effects Tobit analysis suggests that accreditation status does not affect violent and property crime clearance rates. Clearance rates are more influenced by the number of sworn personnel and law enforcement expenditures per capita. Research limitations/implications ‐ Much of what is currently known about the impact of accreditation stems from anecdotal and testimonial evidence. Still, the industry manages to expand and flourish. A glaring need for sound empirical research is evident. Practical implications ‐ Instead of advancing the protection of local communities and bringing about meaningful organizational reform, accreditation appears to be a useful tool for bureaucrats who wish to further their own careers. Originality/value ‐ Advocates link accreditation status to a number of benefits, including better investigatory practices that culminate in more solved cases. Recent academic work suggests that accreditation has dubious benefits, despite claims to the contrary. This study adds to that literature by showing that accreditation also fails to elevate clearance rates.
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Keywords: Accreditation; Crime rates; Innovation; Performance measures; Police; Quality of policing; United States of America

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 02 March 2012

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