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Technology and Law Enforcement Essay

With advances in technology we see new and scary ways criminals commit crimes. With the introduction of cell phones and scanners years ago, criminals could listen to police radio traffic and see where and how we police were responding. No need for “look outs”, technology became the look out. Now in the computer age we see crimes from identity theft and hacking into computers to steal personal and corporate confidential information to cyber stalking and sexual predating to cell phone cloning. Criminals have a whole new playground and the playground as technology advances. But technology is not just for criminals. Law enforcement agencies are using technology to make police work more effective and efficient. Also police and communities are also using technology to make their communities safer.

Technology and the Individual Police OfficerThe future of policing from the perspective of individual police officers is understanding how the new technology works for the individual law enforcer. There are many new technologies that are being invented and implemented in law enforcement agencies across the country. The main goal for each new technology is to improve police work.

In a town in Mississippi, the local police agency received 24 refurbished computers from the Aurora, Colorado police department. The police chief in Mississippi was excited because these computers will be put into the squad cars of each officer. This new technology for this small town in Mississippi is making the law enforcement faster and more effective. The officers can now look through the databases in their squad cars. The officers do not need to call dispatch and wait for them to respond.

The officer must then ask the dispatcher to look up the item or items that the officer needs to proceed with the situation. The new computers will also make writing the reports more clear and spelling is correct. Police Chief Lionel Cothern (2007) said, “I don’t know what we would do without computers (Gulflive, 2007, para. 7).”New technology is ever present even if a new technology introduced to one law enforcement agency is new in the market or has been out for a while, if it helps the law enforcement community, it is an improvement.

Wireless technology is a fast growing technology that is helping the individual police officers as well as the agencies themselves. In San Francisco, the transit police officers have been given a wireless live video feed. The Police officers are now able to see through live video feed what is going on in approx. 39 stations and 100 miles of track (San Francisco city website, 2007). Commander Gomes said, “This really is the next wave in police work” (San Francisco city website, 2007). He also said, “Wireless technology and intelligent video systems can offer law enforcement a powerful tool to use against criminals (San Francisco city website, 2007).”

This new technology allows the video link to be viewed 24 hours a day and seven days a week. The live video feeds will also allow the law enforcement in the Bay area to use facial recognition to see potential criminals and also to look into the background of people that have issues with the law. Each officer will eventually have hand held devices to use during situations that may be dangerous to them. These hand held devices allow the police officer to see what is going on in the section of track or station that an incident has happened.

New technologies within the law enforcement community are a very important tool that law enforcement has to use. Individual police officers use these technologies to help them save lives including their own in the line of duty. The new technologies can be innovative or new to the law enforcement agency that uses it. The goal for these new law enforcement tools is to help solve crime faster and more efficiently. The officer will have more time in securing their safety as well as others that they protect and serve.

Technology and Police AgenciesTechnology has changed this world immensely and still keeps changing it. If there were not for technology we would still be living in caves far away from sophistication that we enjoy today. By this we can conclude that technology is good for us! As good as technology may be for the ordinary citizen this is not a position of today’s police departments and their leaders.

There are many reasons why police officers and their superiors do not like technology. One of the first reasons that come to mind is that they simply do not react to technology well. It takes them years to get acquainted and comfortable with using modern devices. Because of this police often find themselves trailing behind the offenders. Offenders who are skilled individuals committing acts of crime via computers, cell phones and other technologies.

The problem with modern technology is not solely concentrated on apprehending offenders; it also comes in play when trying to manage an organization using these new resources. Thanks to globalization the crime also became “globalized”. It is much easier for the offenders to access places of interest physically and via internet to commit offenses.

This is where police communication comes into play and also its network awareness. Crime is becoming globalized and police departments need to be aware of matters it traditionally is not good at. Such things are the communication between departments, local agencies and agencies from other countries. Today, compared to past, we have many available communication resources to accurately transmit wanted data information. It is important that we use these resources whether it is within our own city limits or even between the continents.

Another area of interest is police’s network awareness and how they are able to implement this new criminal activity into their already busy schedule. Do we need to reinvent policing and create whole new agencies or departments which sole purpose is to control and prevent internet crime? The biggest problem for the departments today is that they are simply not following the always changing technology. Police have to start looking more to the future and try to predict what will happen. Police management needs to start being more proactive instead of reactive. Technology, if used the right way, can be to our great benefit. It can increase and better many functions such as; communication, control of the officers, offenders registry and more.

Technology and CommunitiesWith the further progress of technology comes new ways of streamlining crime fighting methods. These new methods are not limited to the cops on the streets, or even the sergeants and lieutenants who manage the officers in the field. No, these technologically improved methods also enhance a community’s ability to fight crime as well.

Communities usually take an active interest in the protection and safe guarding of their own. With programs such as the neighborhood watch program, communities have participated in crime prevention for years. Today however, these programs have been revolutionized by items such as the cell-phone, video cameras and internet. With these new and improved methods, community policing has advanced to an all new level. The concept of community policing is not a new philosophy. It is based on the notion that the interaction and support of the community helps control crime by having members of the community bring possible problems to the attention of police. Several examples of how technology has helped with crime prevention are as follows.

Cell-phones have made staying-in-touch easier than ever. With the touch of a button you can communicate with someone on the other side of town, country and/or world. With the ease of rapid communication, comes the ability to quickly notify authorities of possible problems. For example, if a couple in the park notices an incident which looks suspicious, quick action can be taken by merely notifying the police via the trusty, ever-present cell-phone.

Home protection has become more complex by utilizing technology. In years past a secure home was the one which contained a big gun and loud dog. Security of the home-front has changed for many with the addition of motion detectors, electronic keypads, and closed circuit cameras, also known as (CCTV). CCTV is the use of video cameras to monitor designated locations and broadcast the signal to a specific location. Within these specific locations are monitors which may or may not be continuously viewed. Regardless of where the signal is transmitted, the mere presence of these cameras is a deterrent.

The internet’s role in the realm of crime, whether it be crime itself, crime fighting or crime prevention, is immeasurable. One policy that the use of technology has helped to promote is the location and notification of sex offenders. The ability to locate where, and determine how many sex offenders live in a neighborhood is important to most, especially those with children.

Thanks to technology, the internet has expanded to cover even this realm. With websites such as, www.nationalalertregistry.com, the ability to obtain full names and home address of sex offenders becomes readily available. As well as names and addresses, you may also obtain detailed maps to the offender’s residence, color photos helping you identify the offender, conviction information and any aliases which the offender has used in the past.

The use of technology by the community has definitely changed how the general public responds to crime and the threat thereof. With these new abilities however, comes greater responsibility for the individual. For when does the ability to delve into someone’s background turn from righteous knowledge, to invading someone’s privacy? Or, when does CCTV in public places cross the line of public security and wander into the touchy realm of individual privacy?ConclusionTechnology has given criminals new ways to commit crimes.

Technology has also given police advanced resources to prevent crime and catch criminals. Law enforcement must take the initiative in technology and not simply react to what criminals are doing. With the new technology police agencies enjoy they must balance these advances with the rights of citizens. Just because law enforcement can listen in on private conversations easier than ever or monitor private activity with closed circuit cameras it doesn’t mean they should.


Gulflive, (2005). Police Chief Cothern. Retrieved July 3, 2007, from http://www.gulflive.com/news/mississippipress/news.ssf?/base/news/1173694579180270.xml.

San Francisco, (2006), San Francisco website. Retrieved July 3, 2007, from http://www.cisco.com/web/strategy/docs/trans/roadways_transit_police.pdf.

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