Policing is not an easy profession to get into by any stretch of the imagination. Law enforcement officers are out there every day, quite often putting their lives on the line to ensure that we are all as safe as possible. They do this for what many would argue is too low pay and too little thanks. It is good then that they at least have technology on their sides!
Over the years, there have been numerous technological advances that have made the jobs of law enforcement a lot easier than it was previously. In this post, we are going to take a look at some of the most important:
It seems so basic now that it’s hard to see the process of fingerprinting as being a groundbreaking technological advancement, but when fingerprints were first used to identify criminals in the mid 19th century, they totally revolutionized law enforcement, making it easier for officers to get the right guy. Who knew something so simple could be so effective?
Amazingly, it wasn’t until 1987 that DNA profiling was used by law enforcement in the USA to catch a criminal. That criminal was Tommie Lee Andrews -a Florida rapist - who was caught because he left traces of his DNA at the scene. Only a year before that, the technology was used in the UK to exonerate Richard Buckland - a man accused of rape in the city where DNA profiling was first invented - Leicester. Back then, DNA testing wasn’t as comprehensive as it is now, so it wasn’t as easy to find a perfect match, but it did give extra clues that helped to rule in and out various people much more easily.
In the past, every piece of information or evidence the police collected would have to be stored manually on a card or piece of paper and then filed away. As you can imagine, that made it really difficult to build cases and spot patterns. So, when computer databases came along, they really did change everything for the police and other law enforcement agencies.
Visor lights were a boon to the law enforcement officer when driving because they enable them to see well while also not being seen from outside the vehicle. By using them, police could conduct undercover operations without being seen, and without being plunged into total darkness themselves. Although they are primarily used by law enforcement, there is no reason why you can’t use them in your own car either should you need extra illumination.
Automated External Defibrillators
Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs as they are commonly called by law enforcement agents, are special medical devices that are computerized land which can be used to check on the heart rhythms of people who are suspected to be suffering from heart-related illnesses. If the rhythms are all wrong, it will let the law enforcement officer that a therapeutic shock needs to be delivered, and it will allow the officer to do this. This is a great tool for frontline officers to have when they attend accidents and violent incidents where fast medical attention may be required.
In the past decade or so, we have seen the invention of ever lighter bullets. Because they are lighter, they are able to travel faster, and this means that things like the 5.7x28mm cartridge when they are used by police officers who need to stop an assailant in their tracks, can be deployed more accurately. This benefits not only law enforcement officers, but also the general public who need to be protected from threats too.
Cameras that can easily be worn on the person are a fantastic tool for law enforcement officers because they enable them to record any and all interactions they have with the public/suspects. This means that if there is ever a complaint made about them or their actions are called into question; they can use the footage to show their side of things accurately.
Not only do these cameras, which you can read more about in these reviews, protect law enforcement officers, but they protect the public too because if the police know that everything they do is being recorded, they are much more likely to stick to doing things by the book. Most of us don’t like to have all of our interactions recorded, but in the kind of situations that involve the police, it is undoubtedly a really good idea for this king of technology to be used.
The Lie Detector
This one is somewhat controversial because opinion is divided on just how accurate lie detector tests really are, but there is no denying that they have helped countless officers to narrow down their suspect lists and really focus on the people who are most likely to be involved in various crimes. Not only that, but they can really help to pile the pressure on and many a subject has cracked when the prospect of a lie detector test has been drawn to their attention.
Okay, so body armour isn’t exactly a new technological advancement - they had suits of armour way back in history - but there have been advancements in the quality of body armour in recent years, making it lighter, more flexible and better able to protect officers thanks to its puncture resistant technology, so it deserves a place in this post.
Most of us think of drones as either the things that are used in war zones to target the enemy or as fun toys that you can fly around your hometown taking pretty pictures and imagining what it would be like to actually be a pilot. However, they are increasingly being used by law enforcement officers to check out areas where it may not be safe for humans to travel, such as burning buildings, to covertly surveil suspects and record evidence amongst other things. The obvious benefit of using drones is that the law enforcement officers can do so remotely, which means they are much safer from a wide range of threats than they would otherwise be.
GPS Tagging for Cars
GPS tagging is really great because it allows officers to communicate without even communicating. Although they still use the radio to speak to dispatch and other officers on the road, they can let their GPS do a lot of thew talking by logging its route. This is really handy during high-speed chases and, for example, finding the exact spot that drug dealers have tossed their ‘merchandise’ out of the window when the police are in hot pursuit.
CCTV is loved by some and loathed by others, but it is fair to say that it can and has been used to solve numerous crimes. The more CCTV there is in a given area, the more likely it is that criminals are going to slip up and be caught on camera, which makes it easier for law enforcement to first identify them, and then build a case against them.
Automated License Plate Recognition
It’s not hard to understand how having the technology to instantly scan plates as you drive through an area could benefit the cops. It enables them to find stolen cars or cars that are suspected of being involved in a crime without having to manually write down and check them out one by one. They can literally drive by, and the tech will do the rest. It may be a fairly simple form of tech, but it has made the job of the average beat cop a little easier, and that is important.
Ballistic lenses have come a long way in the past decade or so to the point that they can withstand the impact of a .15 caliber projectile. I don’t really need to tell you why this is such a great technological advancement.
The Cell Phone
The Cell phone may have made it easier for law enforcement officers to communicate with one another on the go, although they had radios prior to that, but that isn’t why I’m putting them on the list. Cell phones are being included because when criminals use them to plan or carry out criminal activity, they leave a trail behind them and this helps law enforcement to catch them much more easily than in the pre-cell phone age. Now. all they need to do sometimes is look up cell phone records, and they have their suspect bang to rights! Obviously, there’s more to getting a conviction than that, but those records sure do help!
These are merely the tip of the iceberg when it comes to technological advancements in law enforcement, but they are undoubtedly some of the best we have seen so far. In the future, it is likely that the technology will advance so much that officers will be able to almost instantaneously work out who has committed any given crime, although that is probably a good few decades away yet.
What do you think will be the next big advancement in law enforcement tech?