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Police Departments as Learning Laboratories

Publication Date

August 2004


Edward R. Maguire


Like all organizations, police agencies collect, store, process, analyze, interpret, and react to information. But they often fail to collect or assemble information useful for assessing their performance. In this paper, I will suggest a systematic framework within which police agencies can overcome these difficulties and make greater use of information and measurement to enhance their capacity for systematic, organizational learning. As they begin to operate like learning laboratories, police organizations will move closer to becoming “intelligent organizations,” capable of continuous reflection, adaptation, and renewal. To develop the foundation for systematic organizational learning, police agencies need to develop two new capacities. First, they must enhance their ability to process, interpret, make sense of, and learn from information already available within the agency. Second, police agencies must collect new information that enables them to discover vital patterns and trends both inside the organization and in its external environment.

Recommended Citation

Maguire, E. R. (2004). Police departments as learning laboratories. National Policing Institute. https://www.policinginstitute.org/publication/police-departments-as-learning-laboratories/