The Age of Technology and the Impact on Law Enforcement

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Photo courtesy of intersog.com.

Law enforcement’s utilization of contemporary hi-tech tools in preventing and combating crime is certainly not a new concept. But, what separates modern technology trends from those of yesteryear is the exceptional rapid pace in which technology is progressing.

As a result of this ever-changing tech landscape, police departments (and other agencies) are constantly forced to familiarize themselves with new hi-tech trends and gadgets. So, not only are police officers trained to defend against, and disarm perpetrators, they are also becoming increasingly skilled in effectively using technology to their advantage.

Not too long ago, the only technology an officer had was a police radio, and the knowledge of where the nearest payphone was located. Nowadays, police officers are armed with body cameras, cell phones and radios that scan over 30 channels. Additionally, police cruisers are equipped with radar units, hi-tech engines, surveillance cameras, computer data terminals with internet access, and point of view (POV) cameras.

3D Crime Scene Imaging

Crime scene analytics have fascinated the general public for generations. That’s an obvious fact when you consider the amount of television shows centered around forensic science. A relatively new tool being used in this regard is known as 3D crime scene imaging.

The 3D device essentially conducts a complete scan of a crime scene, and recreates a three-dimensional model of the area.  Sketches and photographs are still being used, but many believe that the 3D model will become the primary method of recreating and analyzing a crime scene.

Through the Wall Radar

This technology utilizes radio waves to detect action on the other side of a given wall. It is an amazing method of limiting the potential harm that may fall upon officers, who would otherwise walk into a potentially volatile, unknown situation.

The radar can alert officers to the slightest movement, which can lead to understanding the full scenario of what lurks on the other side of the wall.  A potential roadblock to this tech is the Fourth Amendment right we all have to not be subject to unreasonable searches and seizures, which generally begins with an “expectation of privacy” argument.

As with any emerging technology, the courts must balance the rights of an individual with public safety concerns.

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Photo courtesy of socialsongbirds.com

Social Media

When you think of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, your mind does not generally think of the ramifications on law enforcement. But, with the advent of the social media age came the ability for criminal enterprises to coordinate in a new fashion; social media enables people to organize in a virtual world with little-to-no societal or geographical boundaries.

Nevertheless, for every single nefarious social media purpose, there are hundreds of innocent, good-hearted outcomes. Once such example is the social media mobile app known as “Waze.” This app is a commuter-centric program that allows users to communicate with one another and navigate through traffic with real-time, user-based updates. So, for the most part, it’s a positive app that helps people “beat” traffic.

However, one of the features on the app allows users to identify the locations of police officers. This is generally used as a warning to “slow down” but, for those with malice in their heart, it could be used as a way to find and hunt down officers.

Although social media lends itself to criminal abuse, it also bestows countless tools for law enforcement to track down perps. Privacy issues versus public safety are always at the forefront of evidence gathering through social media. And the law revolving around, and concerning, these issues continues to evolve.

It is widely known that criminals leave behind valuable personal information when they engage these sites. Using the proper analytical tools, police can piece together quite a story about criminals, ranging from behavioral patterns and habits through actual confessions.

As social media continues to impact society, so will its influence be felt in law enforcement.

Predictive Analytics

The internet (in general) has given those with criminal propensities many avenues to further pursue their malicious goals. Law enforcement analysts are now able to sift through the plethora of data left behind by these criminals. Drawing on data from cell phone companies, financial institutions, and other publicly accessed forums, analysts are able to determine connections between cases and activities, and oftentimes, they can predict a future threat.

Predictive analytics is a highly complex science, which uses statistical data and algorithms to make predications concerning a myriad of behavioral issues. And through the utilization of cutting edge software coupled with the services of highly trained analysts, the often insurmountable amount of internet data can be tamed, and the outcome can yield positive results in the fight against crime.

In your opinion, what emerging technology will most impact law enforcement in the near future?

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About jchasenovelist

Published thriller author, criminologist, and blogger.
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