The Impact of Technology on Policing

The Impact of Technology on Policing
Policing has undoubtedly come a long way since the first group of 800
New York men were given the nickname “coppers” as a result of the
distinctive eight point star badges they wore pinned to their chests
(Fuller, 2010). Reflecting back onto what we know about the late 19TH
century, it is not hard to imagine what the responsibilities and daily
duties of these police officers would have consisted of. The job was,
and still remains relatively simple investigations are conducted,
warrants are written, and wrongdoers are taken to jail. The interesting
part, however, is not that those fundamentals have stayed the same, but
what it takes to accomplish those same tasks have.
As someone with experience in the career field of modern law
enforcement, I can attest to my aforementioned statement that the core
responsibilities of the job have not changed. Furthermore, I can allow
readers the opportunity to understand what has caused performing those
duties to become increasingly difficult throughout the years. In my
opinion, the largest dividing line between modern law enforcement
officers and those who walked the cobblestone foot beats of the past is
simply technology. The effect that technology has on law enforcement
has caused constant evolution and adaption of new advancements in the
As the world becomes more technologically based, so do the citizens.
According to the research firm In-Stat, over 65 percent of the U.S.
population will own a smart phone and/or tablet by the year 2015
(Reisinger, 2011). Now, more than ever, administrators must keep up
with never ending advancements in the various forms of communication and
connectivity. Mobile-data computer terminals, various criminal and
statistical databases, in-car camera systems, and two-way radios are all
small technology components that modern law enforcement agencies rely
upon to effectively serve those that they are sworn to protect.
Technological advancement has impacted policing operations through major
improvements in police vehicles, body armor, communication, and
The increase in the rate of technological advancement in the modern
world coupled with the increase in incidents of crime creates a
necessity for security agencies to have the state-of-the-art equipment.
Adoption of technologically enhanced equipment helps the law enforcers
to keep pace with the world and deal with emerging challenges.
Currently, the use of technology in law enforcement can be seen in four
main areas. First, improvement in police cars is an ongoing process that
aims at enhancing the police patrol operations and capacity of police
officers to track the extrajudicial culprits. In the past, technology
experts focused on increasing the durability of police cars and speed,
but current efforts are being directed towards enhancing the criminal
pursuit and maintain the safety of security agents.
According to AOL Autos (2013) fitting of police cars with cannons is
among the most significant technological advancements that will enhance
efficiency in pursuit of dangerous criminals. Cannons are electronic
gadgets that are designed and fitted in the trooper cruisers to shoot
small tracers to a car that is being pursued by police. This allows the
troopers to turn off the lights and follow the trackers safely to the
car’s location. The police cars are also fitted with video cameras
enhance efficiency in police operations and collection of evidence. The
video cameras provide an unbiased account of events that take place in
crime scene and reduce chances for false accusation (Hrenchir, 2011).
Some of the video cameras are designed to serve varied purposes such as
automatic collection of licensed number plates and events taking place
at police calls.
Secondly, different body armor products have been developed to protect
security agents from injuries and help them carry the basic necessities
they may need during security operations. Ballistic protective armors
have undergone significant improvements since 1970s (Dees, 2013).
Initial models of ballistic helmets were made of heavy ceramic material,
spectra, or kelvlar, which made the helmet user uncomfortable.
Scientists have been able to extract lighter material from sea sponge,
which consist of protein and calcite. The material is lighter and
stronger than other materials that have been in use. In addition, the
material is used in the manufacture of other body armor (such as speed
plates and law enforcement vest). Moreover technology has made a
significant contribution towards the development of soft body armor that
is safe, light, and convenient for use by first responders and
enforcement personnel. The top layer of leather that is added on soft
body armor improves the strike resistance and reduces penetration of
sharp objects (Purushothaman, Coimbatore & Ramkurmar, 2013).
The third impact of technology on policing is communication, which can
be categorized into communication devices and electronic tools. ICT
increases efficiency in the management of increasing pressure of law
enforcement agents and resolving complex criminal activities. Today,
security agents can use electronic identification to identify culprits
and trace them quickly. Some of electronic identification methods that
are commonly used include the digital signature, mobile phone numbers,
and permanent account number (Kumar, 2012). Radio frequency
identification is a modern technology that relies on radio waves to
transmit information from electronic tags that are attached to objects.
This helps the law enforcers to trace people and objects more easily or
tracking their movement within the country. The geographical information
system and global positioning system are technological advancements that
allow security agents to capture real-time information in different
geographical areas. This improves efficiency of security officers in
coordinating operations, reporting, tracking goods, and taking timely
actions (Kumar, 2012). The centralized information storehouses (CIS)
help security agencies in collecting, storing, and analyzing bulks of
data that is collected on a daily basis. CSI include two types of
databases namely the police personnel database and criminal database.
The databases allow the system users to access data and information
simply by typing the keywords, which efficiency in police operations.
Security agents also use the mobile-data computer terminals to track the
movement of vehicles.
Weapons used in security operations have also undergone significant
improvement, which targets at improving efficiency and security of
users. This means that technologists are developing weapons with the
rapid rate of striking and minimal impact of users. New technology
allows security officers to arrest resistive culprits with minimal
injuries with the help of less-lethal weapons. Some of the less-lethal
weapons that are commonly used by security agencies include conducted
energy devices (such as Taser) and pepper spray Bulman, 2007). The use
of GPS bullets is one of the new weapons developed to reduce injuries to
suspects and innocent people who may be near the scene of crime. These
bullets are mainly shot at cars being chased where it sticks, thus
allowing security officers to track the movement of car without injuring
innocent bystanders or other road users (Keane, 2013). The use of 3-D
printed guns has also been in use although their use as becomes
controversial since they cannot be detected by metal detectors at
security checks points.
Technology has taken a primary role in the storing and sharing of police
based information. In his textbook, Criminal Justice: Mainstream and
Crosscurrent, author John Fuller (2010) states that one of the most
important technological innovations in criminal justice has been the
computerized database. Fuller (2010) goes on to state that what makes
the usage of these databases so important is not only the volume of
information that they can hold, but also the ability for officers to
search that information and share it with other agencies across
jurisdictional boundaries. In the department for which I am currently
employed, new radio systems have been installed in every vehicle that no
longer allows us to communicate with neighboring jurisdictions. The
documentation and submission of both property and evidence have become
completely computerized.
Technological advancement has impacted policing operations through major
improvements in police vehicles, body armor, communication, and
weaponry. The major technological development accomplished in the four
areas of policing aimed at enhancing efficiency of security operations,
safety, security officer, and protection of suspects from unnecessary
injuries. In addition, the integration of technology in the law
enforcement operations keeps this important sector in pace with the
technological developments taking place in the world and dealing with
emerging security challenges, some of which are caused by people with
high technical knowledge. Although all the four areas of policing
service (police cars, body armor, communication, and weaponry) have
undergone significant development, the rapid advancement taking place in
the information communication technology has created an advantage for
the security communication system. This has resulted in drastic
development of more efficient electronic tools and devices that enhance
efficiency in tracking criminals, evidence collection, and data
AOL Autos (2013, October 30). Police skip chasing criminals with new
tracking technology. AOL Autos. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from
Bulman, P. (2007). Police use of force: The impact of less-lethal
weapons and tactics. NIJ Journal, 267, 4-11.
Dees, T. (2013, September 10). Body armor tech: Looking at the future of
personal protection equipment. Retrieved December 8,
2013, from HYPERLINK
Fuller, J. R. (2010). Criminal Justice Mainstream and Crosscurrents-2nd
edition. Upper Saddle: Pearson Education, Inc.
Hrenchir, T. (2011, May 14). City upgrades police car camera technology.
The Topeka Capital Journal. Retrieved December 8, 2013, from HYPERLINK
Keane, J. (2013, November 5). GPS bullet takes a bite out of the
dangerous high speed chase. Industry Tap. Retrieved December 8, 2013,
Kumar, B. (2012). Role of information and communication technology in
Indian police. Gian Jyti E-Journal, 1 (2), 1-9.
Purushothaman, A., Coimbatore, G. & Ramkurmar, S. (2013). Soft body
armor for law enforcement applications. Journal of Engineered Fibers and
Fabrics, 8 (2), 97-103.
Reisinger, D. (2011, August 23). In-Stat: Majority in U.S. to have
Smartphone’s, tablets by 2015. CNET News. Retrieved from