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Issues and Patterns in the Comparative International Study of Police Strength

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Published studies have examined patterns of police strength in only a handful of industrialized, and mostly English-speaking, democracies. There are primarily two reasons for this. First, practical limitations, especially language, make it difficult to collect international data on police strength. Second, even when such data are available, they are often riddled with errors related to erratic reporting and other reliability and validity problems. Perhaps the most important source of these problems is simply confusion among researchers and/or survey respondents about the meaning of the term "police." We begin by reviewing existing research and theory on police strength. Using a new data set compiled from multiple sources, we then explore differences in police strength, both between nations (cross-sectionally) and over time (longitudinally). After summarizing what is and what remains to be known about police strength from a comparative perspective, we close with an explicit agenda for future theory, research and data collection on this topic.

Affiliations: 1: George Mason University, 10900 University Boulevard, MS4F4, Manassas, Virginia, 20110-2203, USA


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