Technology is an essential part of everyday life. Like most things, it can have both negative and positive consequences for the men and women working in law enforcement.
The advantages include GPS tracking, advanced communication systems, better body armor, less lethal projectiles and the use of forensics to solve a case.
However, technology can be a double edge sword due to issues like catfishing, cyber extortion and worst of all, helping criminal and terrorist cells organize.
Some law enforcement practitioners believe technology can be used to keep people safe, but it is most commonly used to break the law, according to U.S. Marshal Jeremy C. Rose.
With today’s technology, officers are able to find criminals faster than in the past thanks to DNA testing being widely used in criminal cases.
Another example is the use of models and recorded information from crime trackers that are used to help identify high crime areas. This information helps determine which areas police should be patrolling.
The increasing advances in technology do have adverse effects on the police and the citizens they protect as well.
Many citizens of the world are starting to believe that they no longer have any privacy. This is in part thanks to the Patriot Act, which granted officers the permission to tap into people’s cellular devices without a search warrant. Also, the use of drones in the pursuit of suspected criminals have made citizens feel uneasy.
On the other side the use of cell phone cameras recording every action of police officers have made some law enforcement professionals weary of performing their duties in fear of being recorded and penalized.
In an occupation where hesitation could be the difference between life and death, technology can be the deciding factor of an officer’s fate.
While this certainly complicates the work of keeping the public safe, criminals that rely on using the internet often leave a trail behind. With the proper knowledge and tools on their side, officers can track the trail left behind by criminals to apprehend them before serious damage is done.
With an increasing number of arrests being performed in this manner, some law enforcement practitioners feel that the art of enforcing the laws is being obscured.
Back in the day all you needed was a dispatch radio, and to know where your local pay phone was to apprehend the bad guys.
Cops are now relying too heavily on the tech given to them or the new social media that is being created and not on the skills and procedure taught to them during training.
There needs to be a balance between the overuse of technology and using practical means to solve crimes.
One way to obtain that balance would be to create a division in every agency or precinct that only involves crimes dealing with technology. Then we can truly get to dealing with crimes without too much jurisdictional interference.
Police are being asked to do more and more when it comes to the ever changing state of technology. Most agencies and police departments have a good technical understanding by having to adapt to new technology quickly.
In an age of text messages, IMs and Snapchats, it’s easy to see how policing today could be difficult and how many are pining for the days of boots on the ground police work instead of fingers on the keyboard.
Justin A. Baker