Unit 3 Assignment 2
Purdue University Global
The impact of technology on policing patrol is enormous. Ranging from the use of in-car computer (mobile data terminal), Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) software to electronic tag readers. The in-car computers helps patrol officers to make, transmit and print reports electronically. The CAD software helps dispatchers to assign the closest patrol team to respond as quickly as possible to citizen’s calls. Dispatch centers also keep track of every phone and radio communication within a patrol team and cross reference them to corresponding cases, numbers and officers. Thus, CAD helps police departments in managing its resources adequately while at the same time ensuring speedy response to crime scenes. The electronic tag readers are usually mounted on the exterior of patrol cars and it uses the camera connected vehicle information system to read and analyze license plates and other tags within its reach for authenticity.
The Political Era (1840-1920)
Technologies and their impact: In this era of policing, patrol was mainly carried out on foot and horseback. The technologies that characterized this era of policing with special reference to patrol are guns, telegraph, telephones, auto mobiles, Bertillon System of Identification and fingerprint (Ratcliffe ; Sorg, 2018).
Guns were used to exercise police authority over criminals. Telegraphs were used as the communication tool to coordinate patrol officers during emergencies. One of the most outstanding technologies of the political era is the use of telephone for communication (Brandl, 2017). It empowered police departments to dispatch patrol teams to respond to emergencies as quickly as possible. This era also saw the use of Anthropometry to identify criminals. The introduction of patrol wagons and fingerprint technology were the high points of the political era. These technologies made crime response and apprehension of criminals easy.
Benefits and Challenges: Technology had a great impact on police patrol in the political era, as it ensured swift communication between the police department and patrol teams. Response to emergency was equally enhanced.
The downside of technology in this era is police brutality orchestrated by the use of gun. Through communication technologies available at that era, police made themselves a readily available tools in the hands of politicians and were therefore categorized as corrupt (Brandl, 2017).
The Professional Era (1920 -1970)
Technologies and their impact: As the name implies, the main goal of this era was to rid the police of corruption that characterized the political era and make them to function more professionally (Jones, 2018). Foot patrol gave way for automobile patrol. Two way radio improved police communication. Both automobile and two way radio enhanced police response to crime calls. The introduction of radar to traffic unit further resolve traffic issues and ensure road safety. Simply put, the combined effect of the technologies of this era made it possible for police to respond rapidly to crime.
Benefits and Challenges: The police in this era rid itself reasonably of corruption that characterized the previous era but disconnected so much from the citizens that they were seen more by the public as enemies. This situation created a different kind of problem that demands immediate attention. The need to remedy police public perception led to the next era known as community oriented era.
The Community Oriented Era (1970 – Date)
Technologies and their impact: The mainstay of policing in this era is to involve the public in crime prevention in order to redeem the police battered image in the eyes of the public. Coupled with the invention of transistors and microprocessors in computer technology, this era witnessed tremendous improvement in policing. Databases, such as AFIS and NCIC were created to collect, store and analyze data. AFIS is a national database that can be accessed by law enforcement agencies to match fingerprints found at crime scenes. This speeds up the fingerprint identification for crime scene technicians, detectives, and anyone else concerned with evidence management. NCIC connects fingerprint information to individual criminal records, such as; criminal record, tattoo pictures, offender photographs, current status of offender (i.e. Parole or punishment information) and any other identifying features that can be recorded (Cordner; 2014, Lum et al, 2017). This technology saves officer’s valuable time in having the records readily available whether in the office or the patrol car. It also allows officers responding to helpline calls to look up offender information on license plates, addresses, or drivers licenses from their cars which now are equipped with computers, before they have to have contact with suspects. The officers are more informed and can use more caution, when they are made aware of violent tendencies, or other suspect information. ‘Fingerprint information, was sped up even further with the invention of the fax machine. Information can be transmitted between agencies or from NCIC to the requesting agency in seconds, when mailed requests took weeks to receive results,’ (Ratcliffe & Sorg, 2018). Other advances in technology in this era include Geographic Information Systems, which help in locating suspects and victims, and Global Positioning technology, which uses satellites to locate people and vehicles.
Benefits and Challenges: The main benefit of technology is the online real time access to information by patrol teams. Be that as it may. Rapid urbanization, rising population and growing inequalities are creating a different kind of challenge in this era. While it is generally accepted that advances in technology have gone a long way in affecting police service delivery, the same technology that advanced police service delivery have sophisticated crime (2014, Lum et al, 2017). Criminal cartels and gangs have used sophisticated technologies to commit crime without leaving a traceable or linking evidence.
There has been continuous improvement in police operations occasioned by the invention and introduction of technology to police departments. Every era of policing have enjoyed the benefits of using technology to enhance service delivery. However, the same technology that improves police service delivery also aids crime thereby making it a double edged sword.
Brandl, S. G. (2017). Police in America. SAGE Publications.
Cordner, G. (2014). Community policing. The Oxford handbook of police and policing, 148-171.
Jones, G. J. (2018). Enhancing Patrol Management Strategy and Deployment Efficiency of Police Managers by Utilizing Automated Vehicle Locator (AVL) Technology (Doctoral dissertation, George Mason University).
Lum, C., Koper, C. S., & Willis, J. (2017). Understanding the limits of technology’s impact on police effectiveness. Police quarterly, 20(2), 135-163.
Ratcliffe, J. H., ; Sorg, E. T. (2017). A History of Foot Patrol. In Foot Patrol (pp. 7-20). Springer, Cham.