Technology works to influence the lives of individuals in a variety of different ways, and its effects are often far reaching and complex. The days are long past when computers were only a thing to be had by large universities, and it is now common for individuals to have at least one computer for their home and typically an additional portable form of computing device that they may carry with them as well. The individual’s life is not the only thing that is changing with the addition of technology, however. All manner of government and federal agencies are working to incorporate the use of computers in their daily activities, including the court systems and the police departments. Traditionally these are areas in which most individuals never step foot in more than once in their lives, if at all, and while it is comforting to know of their existence in case of need, many individuals are unaware of the leaps and bounds these agencies have made in terms of efficiency and effectiveness.
How Technological Advances Are Changing Police Work
When the average individual thinks of the police department, the image that is often conjured to mind is that of Mayberry, with the lovable, yet bumbling police officer in the decidedly low tech office. Alas, Mayberry is a far cry from today’s society, and the police departments need to stay on top of technological advances in order to keep up with the increases in crime and the tools used by criminals to do so. The use of technology within the police departments work to not only improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the officers, but work to increase the safety of the officers on the force as well; as an added bonus, the implementation of new technologies within the department serves as a morale booster, much akin to that of a child receiving a new toy to play with, or a teenager receiving a new gadget to enjoy (Schultz, 2008). Among the computerized gadgets and gizmos that are being implemented within police departments in this day and age are SMART boards, crime mapping software, and the use of reporting and analytics software; additional items include the use of license plate readers, specialized software, such as Threads, radio networks, GPS, and linking software like NetMotion (Friedman, 2010).
One implementation of a SMART board places the city on the map and updates with blue and red areas within the city to indicate where criminal activity is rising (red) or declining (blue) in order to be able to see necessary deployment patterns and the like (Friedman, 2010). Other uses include charts of crime trends over a set period of time and the last stops of each individual patrol car as a means of tracking and identifying where their officers are at any given time for speed of dispatch (Friedman, 2010). Crime mapping software is used to track patterns of crimes, either overall or by individual crime, within a given area, thereby providing police with additional information on the types of activity to look for, and whether or not there are potential repeat issues within a given area, allowing for additional potential links to criminal activity (Friedman, 2010). Threads allows for the inputting of all data related to a crime in order to potentially tie in to cold cases and to work to make sure that no possible connection is overlooked by keeping all information within the database in a set location for easy access by all (Friedman, 2010).
How Technological Advances Are Changing the Courts
It is not just the police departments that are receiving a facelift, but the courtrooms as well. Gone are the days of Matlock’s assertive posturing and his respectful determination in arguing a case, and in its place are even more pieces of technology that would make Andy Griffith’s head surely spin. Computers are now used within the court system to provide “text creation, storage, and retrieval, improved access to the law, recording of court proceedings, case management for producing data for administrative purposes, continuing education and communication” (Egonda-Ntende, 2005). Courts are now able to type up proceedings on computers for easy storage and retrieval, use computers to communicate in regards to case dockets and scheduling and even provide fast and easy access to information regarding specific points of law for both judges and those wishing to access legal information. E-courts are being created wherein all parties are communicating via computer and there are no individuals present within the courtrooms themselves, documents are able to be transmitted in a way that is both secure and verifiable, and witnesses are able to give testimony via teleconferencing (McMillan, 2013). There is even talk of using computers for the purposes of brain imaging in order to determine where an individual is guilty or innocent as a result of the brainwave patterns given off (Lewis, 2013).
It is true; computer technology has drastically changed the way that courts and police departments are able to operate, working to create the most effective and efficient means of doing so in a digital world. As Bob Dylan sang, “the times they are a-changin’” and nowhere is this truer than in the courthouses and police stations of America today. By working to understand the different methods that are allowing for the increased efficiency within these agencies it is possible to gain not only a better grasp of how the world around us is changing, but why these changes are taking place.
- Egonda-Ntende, F. (2005, February 06). The role of information technology in modernising the courts. Retrieved from http://www.venice.coe.int
- Friedman, D. (2010, September 07). Tech cops: How technological advances are changing police work. Retrieved from http://www.greenwichtime.com
- Lewis, T. (2013, June 04). Brain imaging could let courtroom know you’re guilty. Retrieved from http://www.nbcnews.com
- McMillian, J. (2013). Court r e vie w 41 e-courts: The times they are a-changin’. Retrieved from http://aja.ncsc.dni.us
- Schultz, P. (2008, June). The future is here: Technology in police departments. Retrieved from http://www.policechiefmagazine.org