Law enforcement agencies are in the middle of a period of large-scale innovation. New technologies are at the center of this movement, as police must contend with new ways to create and use data. Policy management software is critical in this area. Officers must understand precisely how they can gather information, how officers should use it and what they can do in response to new technologies emerging in the public. The right policies can protect your agency against litigation and give your officers a baseline that they can work from when making decisions in the field.

Policy advances are necessary as police take advantage of new tools and contend with modern technologies. A few trends that are demanding policy updates necessary include:

New ways to use data
A recent report from The Washington Post highlighted how police in Fresno, California, have started using data to analyze situations surrounding emergency calls. Basically, when somebody calls 911, police at headquarters will do a deep dive on data about the persons involved to identify the likelihood that the incident will become violent or otherwise problematic.

According to the news source, data analysis tools allow police to bring a greater level of intelligence to incidents, letting them diffuse potentially dangerous situations.

While this knowledge can be invaluable, it also forces police to toe the line between data accessibility to protect people and violating personal privacy. Careful policy design is needed to avoid major problems and maintain transparency with the public.

Data is playing a growing role in police operations.
Data is playing a growing role in police operations.

Emerging methods to gather information
Police don’t just have new tools to use data, they can also gather it in more ways than ever. For example, a Wired report explained that the Anaheim Police Department has attached surveillance devices to Stingray drones, allowing them to use the unmanned aircraft to spy on mobile phone traffic. The technology has been in place since 2009, and has been shared with other departments.

This type of data collection can help police identify suspicious behavior, but it can also lead to major breaches of personal privacy. Policies that govern exactly how and when to use drone surveillance are necessary as such solutions become more accessible.

It’s not just about police technology
Law enforcement agencies have access to new technologies, but so do the people they serve. Drones, in particular, are becoming a headache for police. In some cases, agencies are turning to extremely creative measures to handle the remote-controlled aircraft. A project in the Netherlands involved using eagles to hunt and capture drones, and police in London, England, are considering a similar program, Mashable reported.

In theory, using trained birds can resolve many challenges in capturing drones by not severely damaging the items. In practice, the strategy underlines a major challenge facing police forces – drone-related policies must be created with incredible precision to ensure that drones can be lawfully dealt with when necessary without damaging the personal property of citizens unnecessarily.

A variety of technologies and police capabilities are disrupting existing policies. Law enforcement agencies must develop new regulations as they work to adapt to these industry changes, and the right document management software can smooth the process of developing new policy materials.