New technologies are helping law enforcement agencies remain one step ahead of criminals by providing officials with new ways to detect and prevent crimes. Public safety has improved significantly over the last decade as police gain the tools necessary to solve a range of common challenges that plague departments across the United States. From staffing issues to inadequate data analysis, law enforcement is finding better ways to perform their investigations and fight back against crime.
5 Law Enforcement Challenges and How Technology Can Help
Solving crimes can be complex, even for the most experienced investigators. Fortunately, the methods for solving crimes have improved over time with the addition of new technologies in the law enforcement industry. Here is a look at some of the most common challenges experienced by police and how they can be solved by technology.
1. Staffing Shortages Among Police Departments
As with many other industries, law enforcement has faced a growing number of resignations and retirements in the last few years. Economic crises from the COVID-19 pandemic have contributed to staffing shortages in all sectors. Not having enough staff to take on essential roles within police departments can make it difficult to work investigations and fight crime.
According to a survey conducted by the Police Executive Research Forum, law enforcement agencies are currently only filling up to 93 percent of their positions. Additionally, the number of resignations in the last year increased by 18 percent while retirements went up 45 percent. This has forced many officers to perform duties not typically associated with their job description.
Law enforcement agencies are addressing these staffing shortages with the help of technology. Through comprehensive analysis of crime patterns, officers can more accurately forecast crimes and make better use of resources to keep communities safe. With access to the right data, agencies can deploy officers where they are needed most to make the best use of their time.
2. Decline in Morale of Officers
Staffing shortages, coupled with concerns about their overall effectiveness, have caused many police officers to experience a sharp decline in morale. However, there is a technological solution for this common problem as well.
Many agencies have adopted innovative data analysis systems that contain a large collection of public information, such as incident reports, historical crime data, community demographics and staffing information.
Using this data, officers can more effectively deploy their resources and use reliable information to reduce crime rates in their communities. The use of data analysis is a great way for law enforcement agencies to build trust with the public while simultaneously boosting the morale and overall productivity of their officers.
3. Rising Crime Rates in the U.S.
Crime in the United States is on the rise and with staffing shortages and related issues, many agencies are struggling to keep up. According to data released by the CDC’s National Center for Health Statistics, the homicide rate in the U.S. increased 30 percent between 2019 and 2020, making it the highest rate recorded in modern history.
The advanced use of data has been found to accurately predict and prevent crime. Information technology allows law enforcement agencies to receive data in real-time, which officers and investigators can then use to do their jobs more efficiently. This historical data not only aids the officers but also makes communities safer.
4. Loss of Public Trust in Law Enforcement
The relationship between the public and law enforcement has always been somewhat strained. However, a recent survey conducted by Gallup shows that the public’s confidence in the police has fallen five points to 48 percent from the year prior. With confidence in police at a record low, law enforcement has been on the lookout for new ways to build back this trust.
Leveraging information and data analysis has given law enforcement agencies an edge when it comes to understanding what types of crimes occur in their communities and what they can expect in the future. With a better understanding of crime patterns, officers can effectively reduce negative police incidents and build back trust with the public.
5. Poor Management of Digital Evidence
Police are tasked with collecting and managing a large amount of information and data. With the move from paper documents to digital documents, many officers face difficulties with maintaining record management systems.
The introduction of cloud-based storage solutions and similar technologies has made it easier for law enforcement to effectively store and manage data while leveraging enhanced security features and robust computing capabilities.
With digital evidence, police also have the option to gain access to critical information from any device, such as smartphones, tablets and various body-worn technologies. This means that investigators can find the information they need while on the scene, saving agencies time and resources.
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