Technology and Law Enforcement

Topics: Crime, Police, Closed-circuit television Pages: 11 (4494 words) Published: July 27, 2010
Main Topic: The Role of Information Technology in Crime Fighting Creative Topic: Detecting, Debilitating and Decreasing Crime Information Technology is an invaluable tool in the fight against crime. Little wonder technological advances are being utilized all over the world, Jamaica included, to combat the scourge of crime by deterring criminals as well as apprehending them after the act. Snow in his book posited that many leaders in law enforcement today see technology as the key to controlling crime and making our communities safer (9). Information Technology (IT) is defined, according to the Oxford Concise English Dictionary, as the study or use of systems, especially computers and telecommunications, for storing, retrieving, and sending information. Technology is integrated into our everyday lives in innumerable ways. It is almost impossible to go through a day without interfacing with a technological or computerized device. Technology has been of such significant benefit to our lives that it would be foolhardy of us to not explore its usefulness in combating crime - a societal problem of monstrous proportions. Crime is an offence against an individual or the state which is punishable by law. Information Technology can play a part in the fight through crime detection, applying measures in crime fighting, and implementing systems for sustained crime management. Information Technology can be ably used in the detection of crime. Biometrics, product protection and closed-circuit television (CCTV) are among the elements that can be utilized. Human beings can be uniquely recognized based upon one or more intrinsic physical traits. According to the Oxford Concise English Dictionary, Biometrics is the application of statistical analysis to biological data. However, the concern is with technologies that analyze human characteristics for automatically recognizing or verifying identity in a context where the biometrics is measurable. The biometric characteristics of an individual can be either physical or behavioural (Zhang 2). Finger printing, face recognition and DNA testing are a few of the ways biometrics can be utilized. Zhang explains that biometric systems work using enrolment and identification parts. The enrolment part has a user’s characteristics ready to be used as a criterion, and the identification part has the interface for verifying a captured end user’s characteristics (8). In 1984, Richard Ramirez, serial killer and rapist in Southern California, brought fingerprinting technology to the forefront. Richard, who later became known as the “Night Stalker”, for a little over a year, while he carried out his atrocities, made efforts for the police to apprehend him a futile exercise. The police had, during the course of their investigations, gathered fingerprints from the crime scenes. These prints, however, were of little value as it would take decades to compare them to the millions on file if the police had no known suspect. In 1985, an Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) changed all of the limitations of fingerprint identification within a matter of minutes. The system was able to positively identify the fingerprint as that belonging to Richard Ramirez and he was arrested the following day after his photograph was released to the press. The police and public had witnessed a real-life example of the value of using high-tech equipment in criminal identification (Snow 1-6). Unlike fingerprinting, face recognition has the advantages of being non-intrusive, natural and easy to use (Jain 1). Face images can be captured from a distance without touching the person being identified, and the identification does not require interacting with the person. Additionally, face recognition aids in the crime detection process as face images that have been recorded and archived can later be used to identify a person of particular interest. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) did a test run which was successful in...

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