Technology in Law Enforcement: Changing Trends
- Written by Matt Kenyon
- May 25 2016
In today’s world, technology seems to be advancing impossibly fast, and it can be hard for law enforcement agencies to keep up.
In a recent survey by TASER, 64 percent of law enforcement officials said they had more advanced technology at home than at work.
This can be problematic as criminal technology is also rapidly advancing.
Not all new technology will be helpful for law enforcement, so agencies should do plenty of research on effective policies and use before adopting new hardware and/or software.
But there is no doubt technology developed for law enforcement is helping agencies respond quicker to emergency situations, catch criminals faster and keep their own records organized and secure.
Here are some of the biggest tech trends changing policing:
Body-worn cameras and advanced surveillance software
Even the federal government has gotten on board with body-worn cameras (BWCs), setting aside $263 million to provide officers with cameras and training. Some agencies have been hesitant to adopt BWC technology due to budget and officer concerns, but a study from the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Criminology found that BWCs help keep officers safer.
While implementing BWCs reduced incidents of officers using force by 59 percent, it reduced violence against officers by 87 percent.
A host of other new technologies are helping law enforcement agencies use footage from BWCs and other surveillance cameras to work with the public and track criminals. For example:
- Automatic video redaction software to protect the privacy of civilians caught on tape
- Facial recognition programs that can check images with a criminal database and alert officers when they come into contact with a wanted criminal
- License plate readers to track stolen or wanted vehicles
- Gunshot detection systems that alert officers to gunfire in locations monitored by unmanned surveillance cameras
Smartphones and similar devices have made communication more text and image-based, and many law enforcement agencies are adopting emergency services to match. New, internet-based “Next-Generation 911” systems allow text-to-911 and use pictures, videos, geolocation and other smartphone functions for emergency communication.
This helps officers respond more quickly and efficiently by determining the exact location of the emergency, the resources needed and what other emergency services may need to be alerted.
Cloud storage and policy management
Accurate, secure records have always been an essential part of law enforcement, and cloud-based policy management solutions have made it easier than ever for agencies to access and update all their essential documents—from policies and procedures to reports to training videos.
While the fundamentals of police work have stayed the same, new technology is rapidly changing how police do their jobs.
Some tech trends are just that—trends that won’t last—but others are lasting changes that are helping law enforcement agencies more effectively keep records, fight crime and serve their communities.