Police Technology

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Imagine a police force with no cars, radios, and no communication. These officers had no back up, they patrolled on foot facing any dangerous situation alone. Police were appointed by politicians for limited terms of service. Because of the apparent political ties corruption was very common. This policing era is referred to as the political era.

During the political era residents were not able to “call” upon an officer for assistance. A civilian would have to flag down an officer as he was walking the beat. The information the officers would collect came from the residents along that officers beat. Because of the simplistic style the police had a strong relationship with the community. There was a lot of interaction with the public on a daily basis. With no radios or cars the officer was free to interact with out distraction.

The beginnings of investigative science began during this era. In 1854 San Francisco started using photographs for identification. This was a huge technological advancement, with out photos there was no real way to identify people. Records were all hand written, leaving no back up files. In 1877 Albany, NY introduced the telegraph. Short messages could be sent to other locations. This was a slow way of communication. In 1878 Washington, D.C. Began use of the first telephone for police. Later in 1880 telephones were put in call boxes for police to use. This was the first two way communication device to be used. The science of fingerprinting and handwriting classification were also introduced during this era. These technological advancements made investigative work possible.

As technology increased, and investigative methods improved policing turned to a new era referred to as professional based policing. This era is also some times referred to as incident driven policing. With the introduction of patrol cars and radios, police were able to respond quickly and communicate with other officers. Sirens were added to the cars during this...
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