The field of Criminal Justice has many different opportunities to develop good communications skills. There has not always been a direct communication between officers and the dispatch center; there is a long list of inventions, throughout history. In 1876 Alexander Graham Bell, invented the telephone, in 1921 the Detroit Police department began experimenting with a one-way vehicle mobile service. In 1933, Bayonne New Jersey Police department used regular two-way communications with its patrol cars. In 1971, Richard Frenkiel and Joel Engel of AT&T applied computers and electronics to make commercial photo, phone service work (telephone history).
Now in the year 2011, we have an abundance of technological tools to help in the law enforcement system. It is important to know the tools and the current technology that are available to use while communicating with dispatch, and the tools and current technology that dispatch will use to communicate in return. The importance of communicating properly in the field of Criminal Justice, a person needs to know the proper protocol of tone, codes and always remember respect for the individual.
The current technological tools that enable officers to get information for their own area of jurisdiction, such as demographics of the area of which they work this are an important tool. This tool helps the officers know the area that they may be going into, and are more aware of the gang presence. The future technologies that are being developed to enhance the communications for interviews or interrogation are on the rise a well. Technological Tools for Communications.
When communicating with dispatch it is important to speak clearly, and give as much information as possible. The dispatch center is equipped with many
different systems that enable them to have eyes that a police officer may not have, even though in larger departments the patrol cars are set up with technological abilities that give them information on suspect’s arrests, personal characteristics, at a moment’s notice. Dispatch has tools to help with translation, when a person is not fluent in the American language; this is to ensure that the information that is being relayed is accurate. It would be a shame if the dispatcher did not understand the caller, and sent the police to the wrong address, and someone ended up extremely hurt.
Some of the other tools that help dispatch communicate with the officers, for their safety and others are the built in GPS that is tied into the officer’s laptops in the vehicle. This tool lets dispatchers know where the deputies’ vehicles are in case the officer is in a dangerous situation, but is unable to radio to dispatch. Currently, there are fewer dispatchers, because in the larger cities, the officers have all the technology right at hand in the patrol car. Digital fingerprinting, built in wireless cameras, electronic records systems (The Columbus Dispatch, Nov, 14, 2010), all of this technology makes it easier for the officer to do his job, however it has replaced most of what the dispatcher does. Current Technological Tools in Effective Communications per Jurisdiction.
The primary purpose of a dispatch center is to direct calls for service from the public, provide communication and information support to field police officers because some centers are the first point of collection of police statistics. (Real police, 2007), some dispatchers are often the key to an officer’s safe and successful outcome on calls, traffic stops, and other incidents.
For dispatchers and officers to work well with each other, dispatchers need to be observant and informed about an officers safety and survival. This can be done by attending outside training courses, reading law enforcement publications and staying side by side of officer survival news and information. Dispatchers can help officers by providing additional information before officers ask for it. For example if they are sent to a location where other incidents have occurred, and providing any criminal history of the person they are dealing with. Knowing the area that officers are patrolling can aid in keeping the officers safe instead of relying solely on what the computer screen shows them.
Both the dispatcher and police officers jobs are stressful. Police officers need to remember that inside the communication center is a high level of stress because every call they receive is a “crisis” and a cry for help. Dispatchers relay the information to field officers so they can respond to each incident. Dispatchers spend their time responding to one catastrophe after another and they rarely see or hear the result of their actions, particularly in grave incidents such as house fires where victims are trapped, or auto accidents where individuals are awaiting the arrival of police officers and emergency medical technicians. By calling dispatch to inform them of the final outcome of the call they took will provide some closure.
Cooperation is the key to a team’s operation and that is exactly what police officers and dispatchers are. As long as everyone understands what their roles are which both dispatcher and officer are to serve the public who majority of the time do not appreciate or understand what they do. Sometimes a tone of one’s voice can cause hostility between the dispatcher and a police officer, so each much remember to think before they speak. They are there to work as a team and while doing so makes work a much better place. Future Technologies to Accelerate Communication: Interviews and Interrogation
Technology used in the criminal justice system is forever-changing and advancing. The Criminal Justice system has seen more advances over the last few years in Biometric technology in the areas of DNA, fingerprinting, and facial recognition software. Agencies such as the National Institute of Justice are constantly working on new technology to assist in the communication within the Criminal Justice System.
Currently we have seen advances in the DNA databases, but the future of those advances could be in the hands of patrol officers in the future. There are advances being made to introduce portable DNA labs that can be hand
transported to crime scenes. With this advancement multiple samples will be tested at the same time providing immediate results with relatively low cost to the law enforcement departments. Police officers and prosecutors will be able to match samples rapidly and exclude or include suspects immediately. This advance will allow officers to pinpoint, interview, and interrogate suspects in cases immediately. This swift collection and identification of DNA samples will eleviate the potential loss of evidence in the field.
The National Institute of Justice is currently funding three separate technologies that will allow officers to detect if a person is carrying a concealed weapon (Travis, March 13, 1997). This advancement will protect the lives of many officers in the field. In the future officers, court officials, and other law enforcement officials will know whether suspects or other individuals are carrying a weapon. Imagine the ability of law enforcement officials simply use a hand held device at short range to determine if an individual was armed. This will also protect others in the event the initial officer does not find the weapon. There have been cases of suspects being searched for weapons, and they are not found. The suspect in turn takes the weapon into the interrogation room and shoots himself. These new advances will provide a first line of defense against anyone being hurt.
The National Institute of Justice and the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services in the Department of Justice awarded $4million in grants to help develop technology that supports community policing (Travis, March 13, 1997). This new technology is being developed to support the problem solving efforts in community policing. Developers hope these advances will help police officers, judges, and probation officers work together and communicate better. These new advances will allow all agencies make better decisions and be aware of what each other needs are. If all agencies have access to the same information this will allow the system to work together more efficiently and possibly solve many of the communication issues of today.
The job of an officer in the field is a difficult one and the proper communication between the officer and the dispatch center can mean life or death in certain situations. The technological tools used today enable an officer to communicate with the dispatcher and allows the dispatcher to do his or her job effectively and efficiently. As more technological advances are developed more officers’ lives will be saved as well as victims. The advances today are necessary to ensure all law enforcement components are able to communicate with each other, as well as do their jobs effectively and efficiently.
Relationship between Officers and Dispatchers (2007) Retrieved from http://www.realpolice.net/forums/archive/t-69519.html
The Great Idea Finder. (2006). Inventions: Telephone. Retrieved January 15, 2011, from
The Columbus Dispatch, Allison Manning, November 14, 2010, retrieved from
Institute for Law and Justice. (n.d.). Institute for Law and Justice. Retrieved from http://www.ilj.org/publications/technology/index.html Travis, J. (March 13, 1997). Technology in Criminal Justice: Creating the tools for transformation. National Institute of Justice. Retrieved from http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/speeches/acjs.htm