This is an Author's Accepted Manuscript of an article published in Criminal Justice Studies, Vol. 29, No. 2 (2016) (copyright Taylor & Francis), available online via the link below.


Given the increased focus and importance of cybercrime, some police agencies have turned to the use of specialized cybercrime policing units. Research has yet to examine the how frequently these units are used in policing, nor has research examined the types of agencies most likely to use these units. The current research, drawing on contingency theory, institutional theory, and Maguire’s theory of police organizational structure, uses four waves of Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Survey data to provide a descriptive analysis of specialized cybercrime units with a focus on identifying organizational correlates, environmental pressures, and the role of time. Trend data show that cybercrime units have proliferated over time and are on the path to becoming a normative aspect of policing, with about one-half of all state-level agencies and around one-quarter of all county and municipal agencies making use of cybercrime units as of 2013. Regression results indicate that larger agencies, agencies facing more task routineness and larger task scope challenges, agencies which make use of broader material technologies, and agencies which have adopted specialization strategies are more likely to use cybercrime units than other agencies. The practical and theoretical implications of these results are discussed, as are promising future research directions.