Technology in Law Enforcement
Technology is currently used virtually in most places with the criminal justice system heavily relying on the use of information systems to implement law and order. The criminal justice agency remains one of the state agencies that heavily rely on technology to help analyze and curb various instances of crime in various areas. It has put in place a global system that relies on technology to combat white crime and criminal instances.
A part of the state agencies that has heavily adopted the use of technology is the Interpol. In professional terms, the International Criminal Police Organization is one of the intergovernmental organizations that help police from different countries to combat crime as well as trace dangerous criminals. In its operations, Interpol as a law enforcement agency uses mainly the fingerprint technology to help identify hardcore criminals who are in various wanted lists in different countries across the globe.
One of a serious cases that has been in the media, where Interpol, a law enforcement agency, in its quest to maintaining security in certain airports had identified an identified people that managed to board the missing Malaysian flight MH370 using stolen passports. In this scenario, technology through the use of a fingerprint database technology, mapped the traces of the criminals who managed to board the flight unlawfully, a much questionable action that has puzzled most aviation professionals. The law enforcement agency unearthed the scheme after checking a set of serial numbers of passports through its database system to identify suspecting passports, which were unlawfully used in boarding the MH370 flight.
With its wide operational network across various airports and countries, the organization uses a computerized system that helps it to map and identify criminals, especially the terrorist
groups with cross border backing. The organization heavily relies on technology with current figures indicating that its system, the stolen and lost travel documents (SLTD) database system, has close to 40 million entries. The technology helps the organization to safeguard several borders, airports, and countries by storing such large number of travel information that can be queried to enforce border and immigration laws at various crucial entry and exit areas (“How to make every country check passports to make sure they aren’t stolen”, n.d.).
In this case, the stolen and lost travel documents database system helps in maintaining access procedures in critical areas hence reducing and combating crime as this process reduces attempts of criminals crossing into borders. In the use of such technology by Interpol, the organization has been able to help countries to combat and track international criminal groups, such as terrorists and drug traffickers who most of times would want to conceal their identity to evade detection and arrest at various police posts.
Apart from helping law enforcement agencies to implement laws, the Interpol’s system, the Stolen and Lost Travel Document (SLTD) database, is also used to check the validity of travel documents to curb instances of non-conformance and authenticity issues (“Border Management”, n.d). This was implemented after the 9/11 terrorist attack that occurred due to a lapse in immigration clearance procedures, but it has played a great role in safeguarding the border posts as well as validating the authenticity of travel documents to enforce immigration rules.
To understand how the technology helps law enforcement officers in various areas, the system is used to store lost travel documents, such as passports through its online portal, which can be accessed by virtually all countries subscribed to the system.
It adds the details of the stolen passports into the system, which can be accessed by law enforcement agencies online, especially around dangerous zones prone to drug and arms trafficking.
Apart from the Interpol’s system, there are various counties and states in the United States that have embraced technology as a law enforcement tool. The most recent case is the use of the fingerprint technology, system by the California state. The state uses biometric systems to improve crime prevention, a strategy that the state is using to store various facial attributes and records, which has played a key role in reducing the rates of crime in California.
The technology being used by Californian police include apps and mobile devices. The police in the field capture suspect details in which they instantly analyze whether it is matching the given sets of suspected criminal attributes. The technology is used in stop points where it performs some analysis based on the biometric information fed into the system.
The Californian police also use other forms of technology to maintain law and order, as well as deter criminal gangs from breaking law. In the counties of San Diego and Santa Clara, the law enforcement agencies together with Los Angeles Sheriff Department use a biometric and iris recognition system to detect criminals in their efforts to maintain law and order.
In these instances, there are good and bad elements of using such technologies in an attempt to enforce law. In Interpol’s effort and use of a global system to detect suspicious movements, the system has played an important role in enforcing law and order by maintaining
Peace, especially in areas that have recorded a reduction in crime rates, terrorist activities, and gun trafficking, which fuel criminal gangs. This is the good part of the Interpol’s technology, as it helps maintain border security by discouraging lawful entry in various border points.
The system flags off suspicious travel documents and helps to find out the identity of the person, which becomes a form of deterrence and reduces such entry attempts by criminal gangs. This, therefore, controls an influx of criminal gangs to maintain peace, law, and order in such areas that have implemented the technology, mostly after the 9/11 attack that occurred due to a lapse in the screening process after unidentified group of terrorists managed to bomb the United States after a screen process could not detect the gang. This particularly occurred at the borders, which would have been prevented if a certain technology would have been in use.
In comparison, the bad side of the technology is that it may result in diplomatic rows. This can occur, especially if rival countries use the technology at their border points. In this instance, countries, such as North and South Korea would always be embroiled in diplomatic spats if the Interpol system flags either of the citizens of the two countries.
In addition to possible diplomatic rows, the Interpol system would also pose a danger when a stolen passport is used to access certain border points. This is because the holder may not be aware of the danger, especially if it is used in such a manner. This would, therefore, expose an individual to much scrutiny, undercover investigations that can destabilize
a family if such an investigation is brought into the public limelight. Apart from the Interpol’s system, the biometric and iris recognition systems used in the Counties of San Diego and Santa Clara are beneficial to the population as they help reduce instances of crime by deterring criminal groups and potential gangs from willfully undertaking their criminal activities.
However, despite the good side of the technologies in crime reduction, the bad side is that they may be unethical, especially in cases where an individual’s unique characteristics is secretly captured without his/her knowledge. This would occur through the use of secret apps and mobile devices that law enforcement officers may be carrying at given points and times.
In as much as pretest stops would be of help in reducing crime, they would be unethical and against the human rights pertaining to willful association and access to various areas. In this instance, a person may be stopped and his/her details matched with an external device, as a regulation in a county towards enforcing laws that may be against human rights.
Another form of technology that is being accepted fast in many countries and areas is the use of drones. A drone is a remotely piloted tiny aircraft, which is difficult to spot over an airspace. It uses the aerial technology to be able to access such areas with minimal interference to spy or collect information in designated areas. The technology has been used by various institutions, organizations, law enforcement agencies, countries and military in special operations. It has been in use in the Middle East in countries, such as Iran to monitor illegal secret military operations.
In law enforcement operations, drones play an important role in monitoring hidden operations secretly without the involvement of the population. The use of drones, being a new concept in other countries, is currently actively used in some American states mainly in law enforcement activities.
The technology, for instance, is being used in a county in Western Colorado with the population embracing it, commonly known as domestic police drones. It is used by the Mesa County Sheriff’s department to enforce law through undertaking surveillance operations to enhance safety and security in some areas in the county. In their operations, the drones are used twice a week to perform security surveillance in the neighborhood to enforce security measures and improve security in the county.
The technology, commonly known as the unmanned aerial vehicle, is also used in various areas within the law enforcement area. This technology is quantifiable when a manhunt is lodged. In critical missions that require intensive search as a jail break, an unmanned vehicle or drones are used to search for criminals who have escaped from jail.
Another area where the drone technology has proved to be successful in the law enforcement is the area of community policing. In this area, drones are used for gathering intelligent information, such as assessing potential scenes of crime and surveying areas that can be classified as crime spots to reduce instances of crime and enable law enforcement officers to easily access such areas. The technology is one of the best that law enforcement officers can use to effectively implement better security principles.
In implementing these security principles and measures, the UAV technology that includes the design and construction of drones continues to play a role in law enforcement. In this area, drones are used to conduct surveillance in remote areas that are prone to have security lapses.
In this scenario, drones can be remotely directed to patrol given areas in low altitude while also recording and transmitting the same information to law enforcement officers to help control inappropriate behavior leading to the breaking of the law governing an area. Drones are particularly useful in this area, as they can easily be fed with specific coordinates where critical information on security and safety is to be gathered, hence, enabling them to perform real-time reconnaissance while spotting and recording information that could help law enforcement agencies to counter security lapses in certain identified areas.
With the advent and use of the drone technology by law enforcement agencies, there are many good and bad things accompanying the technology. For instance, drones are good in that they help in reconnaissance and threat mapping, an important element that law enforcement agencies can take advantage to beef up their security strategies to combat organized crimes and any security threat. The other good element about the use of drone technology is that they are quite because they do not interfere with the community setup, as this would be in a normal operation that would consist of security search in various homes. This is advantageous to the community as its quietness can be used as a strategy of gathering intelligence during unexpected times, hence, it would be used for acquiring sensitive information without any interference.
On the other side, drones are operated remotely, hence, they would be easy to deploy apart from the cost elements associated with it which would be a disadvantage to small counties. As compared to the good things associated with the technology, drones are also known to be bad in that they raise a lot of questions in terms of privacy in homes. This is because they are fitted with high sensitive cameras which can be used to monitor, capture, and record sensitive images occurring in the neighborhood.
In its operations and the manner in which they are configured, drones tend to interrupt the peaceful atmosphere within the neighborhood as their deployment would suggest a lot mostly in the neighborhood. This would occur when drones are used in surveying a given place including private entities thereby drawing a lot of concern from the population as they fly over private areas and other jurisdictions they are not supposed to fly over.
Another area of technology that law enforcement officers use is the social media. The social media has been successfully used to enforce law, which has led to a reduction in criminal activities. The recent case being that of IS-IS and other terror related networks, such as the Al-Shabab, which is a great danger to the Kenyan community and other countries along the Somalia coast.
Social media has played a great role in terms of gathering intelligence as well as monitoring the activities of such groups, hence, giving law enforcement agencies a step ahead in
curbing and controlling the existence of such terror networks. Social media, as a public social platform is used by law enforcement officers and state agencies across the world to track and monitor suspicious movements and operations involving networks across the world. It has greatly been used to curb instances of IS-IS movement, Alqaeda, and its sister terror group called Al-Shabab that is active in parts of Africa, especially along the Somali coast.
In regard to this, law enforcement officers, such as the FBI heavily rely on the social media platform as a technology to track down dangerous gangs and criminals communicating via the online platform. They also use these sites to gather intelligence pertaining to a criminal, such as date of birth, place of residence, and contact numbers, which they use to enforce, gun down or prevent possible criminal activities given the dynamic nature where people update their status more frequently.
Additionally, a community can be able to post comments or any other information, which can be of interest to the police fraternity in regard to controlling crime. In most instances, the community may use such an online platform to help report crime information to the police who may t take action to curb such crimes.
A global phenomenon has actually been seen in the use of this platform. This occurs when law enforcement agencies use this global platform to curb the excessive migration of organized terror networks, such as the IS-IS that was recently on the global news where the terrorist group was recruiting members through social media. The law enforcement officers
took advantage to gather intelligence on possible travel dates of the recruits. This helped curb the
movement of the terror network by alerting various border protection agencies that helped protect individuals from joining such criminal gangs.
Social media as a technological platform has also been used in various quarters. For instance, it is actively used by state agencies to curb porn related activities and sexual operations involving minors, where they gather intelligence information on paedophiles with the main intention of arresting them in order to reduce the vice.
Through community participation with police, the strings of operations involve detectives and internet investigators who try to monitor porn rings, human, and drug trafficking through online intelligence gathering processes, which at times would lead to a police bait thereby unearthing hidden drug cartels, porn rings and other criminal activities.
Social media as a technology has been used in various instances by law enforcement officers to reduce instances of theft leading to maintenance of law and order. It has been an active tool of communication that police use to monitor, assess, and interrupt communications between groups that are criminal in nature.
In its use, the platform is good as it helps law enforcement agencies and police to control crime by deterring possible criminal activities. In various instances as shown, this platform has helped monitor and reduce the operations of global criminal gangs, such as the IS-IS and Al-Qaeda. This has been a relief to parents and families who may not know what is happening to their children in secret. On the other hand, the use of social media in secret activities, such as child trafficking and child pornography has been greatly intercepted by law enforcement agencies that employ online detectives to track such instances. This has helped families to maintain morality, especially in the wake of technology where parents may not be aware of their children’s activities online.
However, in as much as it has many advantages, the social media has several disadvantages. Firstly, social media being a public tool that can be accessed by virtually everyone has brought people into public limelight thereby reducing their rights to privacy.
This is because as humans, an individual may post something that he/she may judge that is not harmful in the public arena. In this scenario, social media being used in the public domain may expose a person to potential harassment within the community or by friends hence increasing hostility, especially if a person uses it to release sensitive information.
The disadvantage of using social media in law enforcement operations is that it can reduce intelligence gathering. This mostly occurs in instances where secrecy may be used as a strategic tool to counter attack criminal behavior. Therefore, in as much as public information may provide police with good leads, it is also a dangerous tool to over rely on. This is because criminal gangs can use it as a cop bait to lure cops in certain areas, which may expose their lives to danger, including possibility of death. Therefore, the social media should not be relied on, in as much as it is useful, because it interferes with police strategy in curbing crime.
In as much as technological devices help in combating crime, law enforcement officers still continue to use a variety of methods and techniques to curb or enhance law and order.
However, a given technology in use depends on the area of use, as more modern approaches are being designed and installed in given areas to boot patrol either through intelligent means or intelligence gathering. Such methods and techniques include the use of robotics and wireless technology to apprehend or deter criminal activities or enhance control measures in certain areas.
Robotics, as a technology is used in policing where they are designed to record and capture information based on given circumstances. In the use of the technology, robots record information which is analyzed by law enforcement officers making them TO apprehend culprits. It is a modern technology, and it uses intelligence metrics.
The wireless technology is usually used within the mobile network, especially if law enforcement officers want to intercept suspect’s communication. Certain devices intercept the communication, which guides the police regarding certain communication involving criminals.
Robots, in law enforcement are good as they help officers to apprehend criminals. However, the bad thing is that they can reduce employment in law enforcement. In support of that, wireless communication technology tends to be good as it has strategic value regarding the tapping of communication, which can allow the police to conduct an underground investigation. However, the use of robotics as a technology in law enforcement is bad as it may intercept nearby communication between individuals which may be unethical especially in secret conversations between friends, families and other people.
The use of the various technologies in crime deterrence and maintenance of law and order is beneficial to communities and the police in their duty, however, each may be disadvantageous in various scenarios. However, given the nature and criminal organization in this 21st century, it is important to combine strategies to help law enforcement officers to enforce and combat high-level crimes evident in our age.
Border management. (n.d.). Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.interpol.int/INTERPOL-expertise/Border-management/SLTD-Database
Wolff, J. (n.d.). How to make every country check passports to make sure they aren’t stolen. Retrieved April 12, 2016, from http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/future_tense/2014/03/mh_370_stolen_passports_why_don_t_most_countries_check_interpol_s_sltd_database.html