The Evolution of Criminal Justice Technology
The Evolution the job is exacting. The police are asked to control crime, maintain order, and provide an intricate array of services, from responding to emergency 911 calls to regulating the flow of traffic. On occasion, they must perform remarkable feats of criminal investigation, quell rowdy crowds and violent offenders, and put their lives on the line. Much of the time, police resources are limited. It is estimated that the workload crime imposes on the police has increased fivefold since 1960. Their resources have not kept pace with their workload. To do their job, police frequently have looked to technology for enhancing their effectiveness. 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. The Crime Commission in response to rapidly rising crime rates and urban disorders. The Commission advocated federal government funding for state and local criminal agencies to support their efforts. It called for what soon became the 911 system for fielding emergency calls and recommended that agencies acquire computers to automate their functions. But even with the start-up help of hundreds of millions of dollars in early federal assistance, computerization came slowly. Only in recent years have many agencies found the use of information technology significantly helpful. Examples include fingerprinting databases, computerized crime mapping, and records management systems doing everything from inventorying property and cataloging evidence to calculating solvability factors. 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. Overall, the commission’s science and technology task force reported that many technological devices existed, either in prototype or on the market to help criminal justice agencies. Others deserved basic development and warranted further exploration. "But for many reasons, even available devices have only slowly been incorporated into criminal justice operations," the task force said in a statement that still has relevance today. "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.
Over the last decade, computer and telecommunications technologies have developed at an extraordinary rate. Increased computing power, advances in data transmission and attractive and user-friendly graphic interfaces present law enforcement agencies with unprecedented capacity to collect, store, analyze and share data with stakeholders inside and outside of government. Ultimately, information technology represents a tool to help local law enforcement achieve its broadened and increasingly complex mission.
Two areas in which information technology in policing has attracted a great deal of attention are crime mapping and information integration.In the last ten years, computer crime mapping has emerged as a crucial tool for law enforcement agencies. Advancements in computer technology and Geographic Information Systems have coincided with theoretical and practical innovations in crime analysis, investigation, and crime prevention. Information technology integration has received nearly as much attention as crime mapping. Advances in information technology hold out the promise that all information taking into account and privacy concerns will be stored and shared electronically among all elements of the criminal justice system,...
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