Diverse technologies transforming law enforcement landscape
- Written by Amy Dinsmore
- October 27 2015
A wide array of technologies are achieving mainstream acceptance in such a way that they are disrupting law enforcement operations. As these technologies come together, law enforcement organizations must develop new policies and procedures to ensure officers only use emerging solutions within the boundaries of regulatory best practices. Policy creation and enforcement processes are among the greatest challenges facing police agencies trying to take technological innovation to another level.
New solutions can present new problems. You need to put policies in place to protect against these problems. A few technologies you should be especially prepared to handle include:
1. Virtual currencies
Bitcoin and similar digital currencies create unique difficulties when it comes to enforcing finance laws and protecting the public against theft, fraud and similar types of attacks. A recent American Banker report explained that the Digital Chamber of Commerce and Coin Center have formed the Blockchain Alliance, a consortium aimed at helping law enforcement agencies develop best practices around fraud prevention surrounding virtual currency. The group wants to create a forum focused on giving law enforcement officials the tools they need to debunk myths surrounding virtual currency and effectively protect the public.
Virtual forms of currency are a game changer for law enforcement. Digital forensics is a relatively new field, and expanding policies and procedures to support an increased reliance on law enforcement in the digital world is forcing police to walk a fine line between maintaining privacy and protecting people. Careful policy management is key here, as crossing a privacy line even once can lead to major regulatory and reputation damages for an agency.
2. Stingray systems
Federal investigators and law enforcement organizations have been using Stingray solutions for years – mobile phone signal towers that cause phones to connect to them instead of service provider networks in order to perform surveillance on phone calls. According to a recent CNN Money report, representatives from multiple agencies recently spoke before Congress to detail how these systems are used. They revealed that the policies surrounding Stingray strategies have evolved in recent years, but the goal has been to use them for location tracking, not call surveillance, all along. In recent years, policies have become more sophisticated to ensure that proper warrant practices are followed, but there are still exceptions to warrant guidelines when using Stingray systems.
The development of Stingray technologies emphasizes the difficulties that come with new tools – agencies won’t always have existing policies to work with, and will need to carefully adjust procedures over time to protect the general public while improving enforcement.
3. Anti-drone rifles
Battelle Innovations recently revealed its DroneDefender rifle, which it will make available to law enforcement agencies beginning in 2016. The tool uses radio waves to disable drones without shooting them down. It does this by forcing the drone to enter safety modes, and it prevents it from being controlled remotely, ensuring that drones cannot detonate any charges they are carrying or continue to perform surveillance. According to a recent Digital Trends report, the solution is designed to be simple to use and has been released in a timely fashion as drones are becoming more accessible in the consumer sector and pose a greater threat.
New anti-drone rifles present policy challenges. When is it appropriate to use them? Do officers need to report every time they fire the device? What kind of requirements and limitations are in place about tracking down the individual controlling the drone? What will police do with any footage captured by drones? All of these issues must be dealt with through formalized policies.
Policy management software is getting more important than ever as law enforcement agencies work to integrate new technologies into their operations. Going digital makes it easier to distribute policies, train workers and ensure internal compliance.