Criminal Justice Technology

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One of the important challenges facing many law enforcement agencies today is having a budget sufficient enough to update technology in order to make law enforcement agencies more efficient for the community and the people. Law enforcement agencies, for the most part, are always working with an insufficient budget and struggling to make ends meet in order to protect and serve their community. A quote that I heard once basically says it all, that is “You don’t go to a gun fight with a knife.” I refer to this because it basically means that agencies and administration cannot efficiently grant all wishes and requests from the community without a strong budget supporting the latest technology. It seems as though there is constant pressure on law enforcement agencies to do this and that the community is never satisfied. There are plenty of topics to discuss about new technology such as, new firearms, police vehicles, safety equipment, gear, and so on. While trying to see things from both sides as part of the community and as the head of a department, we need to realize that just jumping in and throwing a bunch of money is not that simple for one, and for two, buying a bunch of new firearms or vehicles right off the bat is not going to make high quality, efficient changes. This leads us to the paper paradigm.

The paper paradigm is implementing more efficiency-driven, electronic processes (2). In other words, updating computer based applications and electronics. Implementing information to a piece of paper is going to have a significant increase on the inefficiencies in police organizations. This doesn’t sound that important to the regular Joe, but I think that the newest technologies could induce a huge impact on efficient improvements of law enforcement agencies all over the nation by becoming more efficient with their tasks and services. While the benefits of moving toward a paperless environment are certainly numerous and generally understood within the public safety community, the complexities in attaining its full potential may be less obvious (2).

We use the term paperless when referring to the transformation of capturing, and storing data with the historical paper and pen model, to a computer based model. The act of writing of information onto a piece of paper, then transferring it to a computer device, was the first form of actual data entry(1). Data entry clerks were then re-entering information into the computer system that had already been entered into the filing system by the law enforcement officer. Papers and files in the Records storage began to pile up while costing agencies more than we would ever imagine due to excess paper, lack of available personnel, and last but not least, efficiency of time(1). The new concept of an inefficient accumulation of all files and folders was certainly an unfortunate and unintended consequence of the first wave of the electronic revolution in law enforcement(2). However, this is not to say that the introduction of computer based technology was an absolute bad thing because it wasn’t at the time, this argument is simply stating that the “paper to computer data” process simply needs to utilize new technological advances.

With the benefits as well as the inefficiencies of this process exposed, the industry set out to enhance the previous concept by reducing the second. This is where the concept of a paperless system originated(2). If the original officer of a report were to have a way of directly entering his information into the computer system, then several time consuming and costly steps could be eliminated. Do not look at this argument the wrong way, because we have made huge advances in technology, rather it is the fact that low budgets (especially in today’s economy) in agencies have and continue to prevent them from keeping up with the newest technologies.

This process was, and continues to be implemented in a variety of formats ranging from direct entry by the an...
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