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Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Essay on Law Enforcement Technology - Technology Essay

Essay on Use of Technology in Law Enforcement 

            Technology began when man started to control and modify nature to meet his needs.  It has brought about many changes in our lives and has made our lives easier.  Some of the persons who were greatly benefited by the advancement in our technology are the law enforcement officers.  There was a time when law enforcement officers could only rely on their guts, physical and mental toughness in the performance of their duties.  In certain cases, where the suspect does not resist arrest, guts and physical and mental toughness can be enough to effect an arrest.  However, there are cases where the suspect could become very violent and so law enforcement officers cannot just rely on sheer guts.  Without the use of efficient technology, the arrest could sometimes turn out violent endangering the life of the law enforcement officer or the people within the vicinity.
            Law enforcement officers used to carry with them wooden batons as their only weapons against violent individuals who resist arrest (Scott Oldham, 2005, p.1).  Batons could be very painful when used against a violent suspect but it is not enough to stop a determined and strong suspect. 
            With the recent development in law enforcement technology, law enforcement officers need not worry about injuring themselves in the course of an arrest.  They now have the aid of stun guns and taser guns to help them effect an arrest without resorting to violence.  With the use of stun guns police officers are able to harness the power of electricity.  Stun guns are used by pressing it into the body of the suspect.  It will then generate a high-voltage but low-amperage electrical charge which has the effect of disrupting the normal functioning of the suspect’s nervous system causing temporary paralysis.   The electronic charge it releases can disable the suspect for 20 to 30minutes enough time for them to place handcuff on the suspect.  

            It is very common to hear charges of police brutality or violation of civil rights being filed against law enforcement officers.  Most of these charges originate while law enforcement officers are effecting an arrest.  In these cases, the police officer is at the mercy of the people filing a case against him who with the use of their fertile imagination may concoct stories about police brutality.  Oftentimes, the law enforcement officer is left with no means by which he can use to defend himself especially when he is in a hostile territory where no one is expected to come out and testify in favor of the police. 
Some of the problems encountered by law enforcement officers while on mobile patrol is how to chase the suspect who could either be on foot or riding a vehicle while at the same time trying to recollect the suspect’s face, the shirt he wore, his height, body weight, color of his car and plate number.  IN these cases, they only had to rely on their recollection of the event.  Oftentimes because the event happens in split seconds, the police have no opportunity to give an accurate recollection of the event. 
            Police officers no longer have to worry about the possibility of charges of brutality being filed against them in the course of an arrest.  Also, they need not worry about forgetting the suspect’s face or the license number of the vehicle or the kind of weapon used.  Law enforcement officers only have to produce the recording of his patrol car video surveillance and present it in court to disprove the false and malicious accusations against him.  It is a powerful technology that can not only capture the events and movements of both the police officer and the suspect but it can also record their voices. 
            Another great technological advancement that has benefited law enforcement officers is the improvement in the fingerprinting technology.  Several decades ago, law enforcement officers could only gather the fingerprints taken from crime scene, and place them on file and then keep them inside their steel cabinets.  In case a fingerprint is taken from a crime scene and the suspect is unidentified, they had to literally compare every fingerprint they have on file with that found in the crime scene hoping that one of these fingerprints will match.  This old method was very tedious and took a very long time. 
            With the advancement however in our computer technology, fingerprints can now be scanned and saved in computers.  It has now become the task of computers to identify whether the fingerprint saved on the computer is a match with that found at the crime scene.  The best part is that comparison only takes a few seconds.  Because of the importance of this technology in crime fighting, the FBI now requires that every police force must submit the new fingerprints they have collected for saving and storage in FBI database called the CODIS program.  Its objective is to create a national database of fingerprints so that identification of suspect will become easier. 
            Just like any technology, however, it can be abused.  In the hands of an abusive law enforcement officer, stun guns may cause serious injury against a suspect if not used properly.  According to United Nations Committee use of stun guns by the police may cause extreme pain and in certain cases may lead to death.  (David Morgan, 2007, p.2)  It has been reported that since 1999, 80 people have died and others have been seriously injured by police using electronic stun gun which negate the claims that they are non lethal weapons.  (Greg Mathis, 2005, p.1)
            Use of police car video surveillance may be advantageous for some but it may pose a serious constitutional challenge for others.   Lawyers have challenged the legality of the act of police officers using their video camera as proof to apprehend those who commit over speeding and those who run against red lights.  Their contention is that the owners of the car are automatically considered guilty and imposed a penalty even if it may be possible that the car owners were not driving the vehicles at the time the infraction was committed.  Aside from constitutional violation of presumption of innocence, some police officers may use the video camera for the purpose of invading the privacy of private individuals. 
            On the other hand, there are those that criticize the idea of requiring every police force to submit to the FBI every fingerprint record they have on file.  They argue that it is possible that in the future FBI may require every citizen of this country to submit to the FBI every fingerprint of a child born in the US creating an ID system with the use of fingerprints.  They argue that this violates the zone of privacy of individuals. 

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