Officer Safety Term Paper

Pages: 14 (3819 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: ≈ 32  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Criminal Justice

Corrections/Police Law Enforcement

Police Technology - Police Safety

Has the increase in technology that is evident in today's world effected the police officer and if so then how?

The police officer's job is one that is demanding as well as dangerous. From the routine traffic stop to the pursuit of someone armed and dangerous, the police officer depends on the technology and equipment that are the tools of his trade. The advancement of technology in the twentieth century was one of rapid acceleration and has proven to be effective both in the control as well as the perpetration of crime. The technology provided to the police officer is being at all times defended by offensive creations and implementations by the criminal element in society.

Estimates states that crime has "increased fivefold since 1960." It is very unfortunate and incredulous that technology for police officers has been and still is somewhat behind the times in comparison to other technological advances. The "Crime Commission" was created for responding to the crime rates that were climbing upward very rapidly during the 1960's particularly in the urban areas. Funding was provided by the local and state governments but had only begun supporting law enforcement through funds at this juncture. Stated in the National Institute for Justice report is the fact that most of technology realized by law enforcement today was adaptations from the common consumer marketplace.

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During the first twenty years of federal government support of the criminal justice agencies the only really notable creation for the safety of police officers was the invention of soft- body- armor for protection of officers. Fortunately the decade of the 1990's ushered in more government support in relation to safety equipment and devices for law enforcement.

Historical Facts of Police Officer Safety:

Term Paper on Officer Safety Assignment

There are three eras used to define the history of U.S. policing. The first of these was the time between the years of 1840 and 1920 which is termed the "Political Era" There were two technologies of protective and defense equipment that were standard issue to police officers of that time. Those two items were the gun and the nightstick. Both of these are still utilized in the work of the present day police officer. During the decade of 1870 the technological advances were through the telephone, police callboxes with the following decade seeing the emergency of the Bertillon system of fingerprinting for criminal investigations.

The second era in policing was the era termed "The Professional Model Era" which ran from 1920 to 1970. This was a period of reform in which August Vollmer, the foremost champion of the Professional Model introduced use of the polygraph (lie-detector test) and fingerprinting and handwriting analysis. A crime laboratory opened during 1932 and the inauguration of the FBI rime laboratory was "eventually recognized as the most comprehensive and technologically advanced forensic laboratory in the world." The two-way radio and the automobile emerged during this era in policing. Other technological advancements such as the radar were introduced in the decade of the forties.

It wasn't until 120 years after the policing era's emergence that a coordinated effort in fostering development for technological advancements for police utilization was realized. Street disorders and crime were a real problem in the mid-sixties which was addressed by the release of a Crime Commission report that contained over 200 recommendations. The findings of the Crime Commission were that:

The system suffered from a significant science and technology gap."

The crime commission stated that:

The scientific and technological revolution that has so radically changed most of American society during the past few decades has had surprisingly little impact on the criminal justice system."

Further stated concerning the police specifically was that:

The police, with crime laboratories and radio networks, made early use of technology, but most police departments could have been equipped 30 or 40 years ago as well as they are today. Of all criminal justice agencies, the police traditionally have had the closest ties to science and technology, but they have called on scientific resources primarily to help in the solution of specific serious crimes, rather than for assistance in solving general problems of policing. (Crime Commission Report, 1967)

But for many reasons, even available devices have only slowly been incorporated into criminal justice operations," according to the task force in a statement made during that time as well as further stating that:

Procurement funds have been scarce, industry has only limited incentive to conduct basic development for an uncertain and fragmented market, and criminal justice agencies have very few technically trained people on their staffs."

III. The Creation of 911:

An establishment of a telephone number that would be used nationwide in calling the police was called for by the Commission on Crime. Reportedly, the telephone company, at&T did not initially like the idea because of conceived problems relating to dialing area boundaries as well as conceived jurisdictional problems and limitations. However, in the year of 1968 at&T announced the 911 emergency number and the establishment of the 911 system began. There were initial problems reported by the law enforcement agencies such as is demonstrated in the following remark written by two scholars of that time:

In many cities the 911 system with its promise of emergency response has become a tyrannical burden."

The computerization of U.S. law enforcement had begun in earnest with the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration (LEAA) providing funding for the initiative. However, the LEAA was abolished after thirteen years and $7.5 billion later. Fortunately many of the agencies continued to attempt computerization advancement for law enforcement.

By the decade of the 1990's there were statistics that gave evidence to the fact that computer use was growing instead of diminishing or leveling off and were being used for various purposes that had not been conceived of in earlier years. The Bureau of Justice Statistics released a report containing the following facts and figures:

The total number of local police departments using computers had increased by 2/3 since the figures of 1/2 in 1960.

95% of employed officers were employed by a locality that used computers.

The information with the greatest impact was the fact that most of these officers were not only using computers for record-keeping but were indeed using the computers as a tool in investigation of criminals, budgeting, analysis, allocation of officers in scheduling tasks as well as other vital functions. According to the 1998 National Institute for Justice, Justice and Statistics report:

One of the most important computer-based innovations in American policing during the past 30 years was the advent of the National Crime Information Center (NCIC), administered by the FBI. NCIC is a central computerized index of fugitives, stolen property, and missing persons. Beginning in the late 1960s, this system was in many instances the first practical application of computer technology used by American police agencies. NCIC demonstrated that the diffuse organization of American law enforcement could be tied together in a centralized system used by all agencies in a common effort to improve service and functionality.

Another area that computers were crucial in using was that of the Automated Fingerprint Identification Systems (AFIS). The AFIS system was not well planned or implemented therefore not being as effective as it could or should have been.

IV. The Community Policing Era: 1970

The era of "Community Policing" began around the year of 1970. Former chief police executive Brown wrote of this era that:

The use of high-technology equipment and applications is essential to the efficient practice of community policing. Without high technology, officers would find it difficult to provide the level and quality of services the community deserves. Computer-aided dispatching, computers in patrol cars, automated fingerprinting systems, and online offense-reporting systems are but a few examples of the pervasiveness of technology in agencies that practice community policing.

Chief of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina Police department, Dennis E. Nowicki stated during this time that:

The computer system will focus "on the needs of the problem-solving officer in the streets,"

One of the first evidences of the importance of computers for used in law enforcement was the use that began in mapping in order to pinpoint crime according to the criminologists of that time. The National Institute of Justice and the Law Enforcement Assistance Administration took care of the bill on the larger technological items. The creation and development of body armor that was lightweight as well as the technology for DNA analysis were two accomplishments of the NIJ. The material "kevlar" was used in the creation of body armor.

The material was "strong and lighter than nylon" and was created initially to "replace the steel belting for tires." (Shubin, 1972.) by the middle of the decade of the Seventies the following performance standards had been set by the Institute's Law Enforcement Standards Laboratory:

Portable, mobile, and base station transmitters; mobile reusable batteries for portable radios.

Portable x-ray devices for bomb disarmament;

Communication equipment such as voice scramblers, car location systems, and radio transmitters, receivers and repeaters;

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