European Journal of Policing Studies


Professional disobedience

The impact of technology and multilevel dispatching on police practice

Keywords Professional disobedience, police, GPS, SDS, situational awareness
Authors Bas Böing
Author's information

Bas Böing
B.S. Böing is researcher at the Amsterdam Police Department in the Netherlands. He started working as a police officer in Amsterdam (2002). After office hours he studied political science and went to law school (2004-2010). After graduation he started working as a researcher to advise police management on police-related issues (2010) (corresp:
  • Abstract

      This article draws on a field experiment that took place in Amsterdam in 2012 to examine the impact of technology on police practice. The experiment consisted of four simulated robberies in which the use of the global positioning system (GPS) and short data service (SDS) were systematically varied (in a 2x2 between-subjects design) with different levels of operational command. The experiment resulted in faster coordination and less radio traffic. But this experiment also showed something else: almost all operational units displayed more or less disobedient behaviour. They deliberately deviated from orders to go to particular locations in the city to search for the suspects. In this article it is argued that this behaviour can be explained through officers’ situational awareness and the use of SDS. Additional interviews and group discussions further indicate that the lack of trust and hierarchical control may also have contributed to this behaviour. It is the question whether the findings of this study covers the current state of police practice in the Netherlands and perhaps beyond. This remains a subject for further study. The results from this experiment can be valuable for analysis in social behaviour studies among police units.

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